Brandon's Notepad

January 4, 2012

Tea 2012

Home > My Lists > Food & Drink > Tea > 2012


The teas I tasted in A.D. 2012 and what I thought about them. Prices are per pound.


I had so much tea left over from the past two years, that I felt compelled to cut down on the number of new teas in 2012. So, this year included a focus on blends, including combinations of tea with Yerba Mate.

Wulu (Jade Green) Organic Green Tea. [World Market; ~$49.95] Originally, I thought that this tea would be similar to the Dragon Well loose tea from 2011 and the “Imperial” tea from Hangzhou gifted to me the year before. The taste is the same, but it’s not as mellow. I also didn’t realize it was slightly more expensive until I calculated the price per pound above. As long as it is available and reasonably priced, I think I’ll stick with the Dragon Well.

Passion Fruit Orange Infusion + Mate. Last year, I wrote that I might try blending the Cuida Te Passion Fruit Orange Infusion with a more basic tea to make it less pungent. The most interesting blend was with yerba mate. I was inspired to create something similar to Teavana’s Samurai Chai Mate. I used equal parts tea and mate. The chunky bits of dried fruit in the tea made the visual balance tilt in the direction of the mate, with far more green than orange and black, commensurate with the Samurai. The result was not stellar, but it made the tea much more tolerable.

Passion Fruit Orange Infusion + Pu-Erh. This combination deserves mention. Since both teas are very strong, I assumed (correctly) that they would play well together; however, the fruit flavors could only be detected when the tea had cooled some. Before that, the Pu-Erh and the heat were overpowering.

Black Tea + Mate. Since I was experimenting with my own blends, I figured why not cut the mate with some good ole black tea. I mixed a teaspoon of the Russian MTF Ceylon black tea from last year with two teaspoons of mate. It turned out to be a good balance. I have taken to sifting the mate dust out with a kitchen strainer, resulting in a very clear brew.


November 2, 2010

Yerba Mate

Back to My Lists


I like coffe and I like tea, but I’ve discovered something just a little different in the health food section of the local grocery store. It’s a tea-like drink called Yerba Mate (‘mah-tay). It’s a product of South America, though it is commonly consumed in Syria and Lebabon as well. There is a traditional ceremony surrounding this drink, and while it is most often made in and drunk from a special vessel (a hollowed gourd) using a filtered metal straw (bombilla/bomba/masassa), it can readily be steeped in a french press or using teabags instead. The mate must first be soaked in cold water to retain its health benefits and then steeped in hot (but not boiling) water. Just so you know, if you like tea then Yerba Mate is not at all gross, though the color may make you think twice about taking that first sip.


General Information

Wikipedia: Yerba maté
Wikipedia: Maté

Health Benefits & Risks

Strong claims are made regarding the health benefits of Yerba Mate. It provides a sense of well-being, aids weight loss, reduces the risk of certain cancers, improves cholesterol levels, yada, yada, yada. Pages of these claims are readily available on manufacturer websites (e.g. Guayaki, Nativa) and elsewhere. If you don’t like the tea, Yerba Mate extract is available at health food stores.

Despite the cancer-prevention claim, there is a concern that Yerba Mate actually increases the risk of some other cancers, particularly cancers of the esophagus, mouth, bladder, lungs, and others; however, most references to this on the Web agree that the serving temperature may be the source of this risk, and not the plant itself. Steeping time (strength of the tea) may also be a factor, and at least one site stated that the smoking process used to dry the leaves is the likely culprit, in which case, my backyard barbeque is probably more lethal than the Mate. Of course, there were the common disclaimers that only heavy drinkers are at risk and that additional research is needed before definite correlations can be drawn. To compare, green tea can apparently also increase cancer risks due to serving temperature and cause kidney and liver damage if consumed in excess.

Preparation

As mentioned in the synopsis above, this mate is traditionally prepared in a hollowed gourd and sipped through a filtered metal straw. Alternatively, it can be steeped in a french coffee press or using tea bags. It is commonly recommended to saturate the leaves in cold water initially, and then add hot (but never boiling) water.

I use a french press and personally find the sediment in the bottom of my cup to be quite unappealing. To solve this problem, I sift the loose leaf mate in a common kitchen strainer/filter that has a mesh less-fine than the one in the french press. I now steep only the leaves (hoja) and stems (palo) in the french press and save the powder (polvo) for later use in either tea bags or a cup-top coffee maker that uses paper filters.

Articles

Confessions of a Reluctant Yerba Mate Drinker [by William I. Lengeman III, epicurean.com]
Yerba Mate, The History of this Dietary Aid

Brands

Guayaki [common in USA; retail stores]
Nativa
Cruz de Malta

Prices

There’s been mention of the affordability of Yerba Mate, particularly in the U.S. Just for reference, at the time of this writing (November 2010), a 227g bag of Guayaki costs between $5 and $6 at the local Kroger store, or approximately $22 to $26 per kilo. At the same time, a 500g bag of Cruz de Malta is available online for $4.99 (Amigofoods.com) to $5.50 (Amazon) or about $10 per kilo. A local Argentine bakery carries a 1kg bag for $4.99. There is no difference between these product and none of these prices include shipping or sales tax. In other words, shop around for the best price, which may not be online.


Blog at WordPress.com.