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Can the leaves of a bush consolidate a friendship?

In many parts of the South American Cone, family, friends, and even lovers are used to gather to drink a mate. (ma:' te)

Since 1997, Mate began to be sold full scale in China, the largest tea producer and consumer in the world.
Mate is an infusion prepared with the leaves of a shrub called Ilex paraguayensis, that grows wildly in the bordering regions of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay, and is cultivated in great extensions, mainly in Argentina and Paraguay.

The evergreen shrub produces white petal flowers, and its fruit is a reddish, black, or yellow berry, but its main product is the oval shaped leaves with a denticulate edge, which properly prepared are used as a refreshing beverage, as well as a coffee or tea-like stimulating drink, and in ancient times the Indians even consumed it for its medical properties.

The yerba mate is considered the "National Beverage" in a whole region of South America, and in Europe it is known as the "Indians' green gold."

70% of the Uruguayan people drink mate everyday and 15% drink it occasionally, according to a public poll published by "TRES," a magazine from Montevideo. EFE
An ancient guarani (native of Paraguay) legend tells that the Moon came to earth and that men treated her quite well. The night celestial body, rewarded them with yerba mate to help them live happy moments and forget about loneliness.

Anyway, mate was known ancient by the natives, but the first to grow the shrub were the Jesuit missionaries, that's why in some places it is known as "hierba misionera," missionary herb.

Yerba mate is manually harvested every three years to allow regrowth, by "yerbateros" or "terrafeiros", as they are called in Brazil, between May and October.

The 22 players and all the members of the coaching staff, drink mate day and night, without any kind of restrictions.
Eduardo Bongiovanni, Soccer Argentinean Selection spokesman, France '98.

The collected leaves undergo different craft or industrial processes, according to the taste and needs of the operator. Roasting (fogueado,) cracking (quebrantamiento,) drying, and grinding (canchado) are some of the procedures, until the mate ready to pack (mate beneficiado) is reached.

The procedures to brew mate are similar to those of preparing a cup of tea or coffee, manual or automatic; but traditionally, a small, pumpkin like gourd called mate is used. The gourd is half-filled with yerba mate and a bit of water, a bombilla (a thin pipe with a globe shape end used as strainer) is introduced, and it is finally filled with boiling water. The beverage is slowly sipped through the bombilla. The mate is refilled with boiling water and the brew is sipped again, repeating this procedure until the yerba mate is tasteless.

Medical and therapeutic properties are ascribed to yerba mate, although none of them have been proven nor rejected; it is also considered a stimulant, as coffee, tea, chocolate, and many other natural products.

"That who stirs mate will clog the bombilla up."

If you go over and over a matter, you might get bogged down.
Nevertheless, the greatest usefulness of Yerba Mate is that it is "good for the soul's health." For a strange reason, the rite of sipping mate never happens in solitary, it is always done in company.

Mate is shared with close friends, family, people that matters, those that, as Robert Heinlein said, "become water brothers or sisters."

For simple people of the South American Regions, to share mate is to share health, share one's soul, share life; it is definitely a token of approval and a proof of committed friendship.

Yerba Mate, the best of the latin spirit.

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