Friday, March 27, 2015

That One Time I Drank Yerba Mate Tea (Spoiler Alert: It Wasn't Pretty)

I consider myself an adventurous consumer of global cuisine and a citizen of the world when it comes to exploring the food and drink of various cultures. I also live in the patchouli and doula capital of Alaska. 

In fact, I think Juneau could pioneer the “patchoula”—a person who helps you figure out how to maximize the use of patchouli in your life. (Fun fact: while "researching" this blog entry, I spent ten full minutes laughing hysterically to myself upon learning that in 1985, Matel used patchouli oil to produce the action figure “Stinkor” in the “Masters of the Universe” line of toys).

So I knew it was only a matter of time before someone made me drink yerba mate tea, which I'd heard of, but had never tried.

My chance came a couple of weeks ago, while visiting a good friend who has worked in Central America (from which this beverage originates) and who is a big fan of it. She’s not a doula (at least not yet), but she is a yoga teacher and uses essential oils. So she encouraged me to try yerba mate.

I insisted that she not bother to make me my own cup, once I saw what hers looked like. First of all, an odd contraption was required to drink it, and that made me immediately suspicious. Any drink that requires special instructions is to be viewed with skepticism in my book.

In any case, you fill a cup (or more traditionally a gourd--a fucking GOURD, people!), full of lawn clippings. You then steep the lawn clippings in hot water, and drink the brew through a metal straw. Yerba mate is said to benefit the immune system, relieve allergies, improve mood, boost mental energy and focus, and increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart.

I’m not against any of these things, of course. But do I really need to drink a cup of ancient lawn clippings to achieve them?

That was my thought as I took my first (and last) sip of yerba mate tea. I was warned that it would be terrible--and it delivered on its promise. I knew it was good for me, though, because it tasted like what it was: a mixture of grass, twigs, leaves, dirt, worms, caterpillar legs, acorns, ladybug wings, and profound, bitter sadness--all churned up in a lawnmower and dropped into hot water. 

The expression on my face upon experiencing my first taste of yerba mate instantly sent my friend (and another friend who was present and also a regular yerba mate and essential oils consumer) into peals of laughter. 

I don't doubt for a second that yerba mate is the best thing for you ever. But those who know me also know that I don't give two shits about what's good for me. And that is why it's Prozac, Benadryl, and coffee forever!


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