The art of mate drinking

The graceful and sociable art of drinking Mate — the traditional South American infused tea made from steeped leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant — is so complex, one really needs instruction of what is actually a whole mate culture.

We received a few lessons in mate drinking recently from Silvio Rodriguez, owner and operator of the El Almacen Yerba Mate Café on Queen Street West. What Silvio showed us was so detailed and so absorbing, we felt — even after his patient tutoring — that we were merely scraping the surface of this very rich experience.

We began with a basic question: what is mate, anyhow?

We then asked him what kind of equipment you need in order to prepare and serve mate.

After which, we needed to know how to actually make this.

And finally, growing ever more intrigued by what we were finding out about Mate, we asked Silvio Rodriquez the best and most traditional way to go about serving it and drinking it. And it’s a lot more complicated than you would imagine.

El Almacen Yerba Mate Café is at 1078 Queen Street West