Through my ability in speaking English, I can meet many people from all over the world. I meet them in an application in Internet. Some of them then come to Indonesia and stay in my house for several days.
Around three years ago, I hosted someone from Argentina named Agustin Blacha. We talked about our cultures. I told him about “Arisan Ibu-Ibu” in my kampoong. He told me about a traditional drinking tea culture in his country. In Argentina and in other south American countries, people drink tea in all occassions. The tea that they have is a little bit different from the one that we have. They call it Mate.
Mate is made with the leaves of the local yerbamate plant.Yerba mate has been a part of Argentinian cultures for hundreds of years, mostly consumed for ritual and spiritual drink for good health. Mate has natural caffeine that helps keep you energized. Although Argentinian people drink it everytime, everywhere in every moment, mate is most popular during afternoon tea break called Merienda. During Merienda, people share mate and have snack while chit-chat with friends.
Mate is usualy drunk in groups of some people. The unique thing is that all of them drink from the same pot with the same straw!!!. One person is in charge of serving and pouring the yerba mate while the rest take turns sipping and passing it to others and back to the leader. Yerba tea leaves are placed into the gourd and hot water is poured from the thermos. A special metal straw, called bombilla used to sipp it.
Mate can be called as an ice breaker drink because it can break the situation among people who want to know or chat each other. For example when you are in a bus and you know someone brings a mate gourd, you can ask him to drink the mate.
So, August made a gourd of mate for us. When the first time I sipped it, I felt so surprised. It was bitter! So bitter that I almost spitted it. My expresion must be so funny because August laughed loudly.