My plan this week was to write a piece about the Argentine mate brand Taragui, but that will have to wait. Sometimes a product turns up at the UruShop warehouse that is so unique it deserves its own column. That product is the Mate Listo, Taragui’s all-in-one kit for drinking yerba mate on the go
Launched in 1992, the Mate Listo (Ready Mate) was Taragui’s solution to the problem of what to do if you go out and decide you want mate but have forgotten your yerba and drinking accessories. In its home country this complete drinking kit can be purchased from ordinary supermarkets, and contains everything needed to prepare yerba mate the traditional way. The only missing ingredient is hot water, which in Argentina can be obtained from street-side vending machines. The Listo contains just a single serving of yerba, but can be reused, and after and handful of sessions with it I felt it time to offer my thoughts.
First Impressions and Performance:
If I’m being totally honest, when I first unpacked the Mate Listo I didn’t have high expectations. I seriously doubted how a plastic mate and bombilla could possibly deliver a decent mate session. Let me just say from the outset, however, that I was pleasantly surprised. This thing works really well, and a lot of thought has clearly gone into the development of this product.
Everything in the Mate Listo kit is packed within the thermal mug. Inside you will find: a plastic mate with yerba and foil lid; a plastic bombilla; a small bowl, and two packets of sugar for those who like it sweet.
The mate (cup) despite being small is very easy to use. I’ve found that after tipping it upside down on the palm of my hand, shaking it, and then soaking it, it maintains a decent mound of yerba throughout the session.
The bombilla is completely straight, meaning you can’t hook it under the yerba as you might do with a spoon-style straw. This doesn’t pose a problem though, and as long as you adequately soak your yerba, the bombilla should easily insert into the mound. Upon drinking, the slurping action isn’t quite as smooth as a finely-crafted metal straw, yet is perfectly adequate. The holes are also well sized for drinking a coarse cut Argentine mate like the Taragui provided, and little in the way of polvo (dust) will make its way into your mouth.
One of my favourite inclusions in the kit is the small bowl, the vaso entibiador. It wasn’t immediately clear to me what this bowl was for – sugar maybe?! – and as my Spanish isn’t too hot I turned to the internet. Google language tools very sweetly translated this term as “heart-warming bowl”, and it was only when I went to Taragui’s website that I realised it was for cooling down water to soak the yerba before drinking. As I’ve often used the Listo whilst indoors, I haven’t really required the bowl so far, although I can see how it would be useful if all you had was very hot water. I did discover, however, that the vaso entibiador makes a great little place to sit the mate at a slant when first soaking the yerba.
The final piece of kit to discuss is the thermal mug. This is basically a large version of the sort of polystyrene mug that takeaway coffee used to be served in before outlets changed over to card. The plastic lid where you would usually drink from has a removable stopper, which is handily attached to the mug via a catch so you won’t lose it. The pouring action of the mug is fairly good, just make sure that the lid is on nice and firmly and that you pour with some intent.
If there’s one slight weakness in this set then it is in the mugs ability to retain heat over the course of a longer mate session. I should imagine that in Argentina, and perhaps even in the summer months here in the UK, that this is less of a problem, but in December it doesn’t really hold up for long, even indoors. To maximise the potential of the mug I would recommend pre-heating with a splash of hot water prior to filling it with the kettle.
A few weeks ago on this blog I wrote about drinking mate when out and about. In Argentina Taragui clearly saw a significant gap in the market, and devised the Mate Listo so Argentines need never be without their national beverage. Although the Listo is now available in the UK through UruShop, it is unlikely to become as readily available here as it is in its home country, meaning that it won’t exactly fulfil the same role as it does at home. Nevertheless, the Listo can still be much more than a yerba mate novelty item. The low price means that purchasing a number of units to keep in different bags, vehicles, or work-spaces, is a cost-effective way of making sure you’re never without your mate. The Listo is also a cheap way of introducing others to drinking mate traditionally, and I have already gifted one to a friend this Christmas.
Not only for its novelty and uniqueness, but for short, hassle-free yerba mate sessions, I would heartily recommend the Taragui Mate Listo!
Love your Listo? Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org