Saturday, March 20, 2010

time for a pause

Really? You all want a pier?
Judging by your unbridled enthusiasm, it does make me wonder what sort of image you all have in your heads of what a pier, in an industrial city, in Ontario, in March, might be like.
I had my appointment at the gym with my personal trainer who, after making me do one too many reps of abdominal exercises, said that if I was going for a long walk then she wouldn't make me go on the elliptical machine. Great. I had a free afternoon and with the dire weather report of a vernal equinox timed end to this record breaking warm spring-like weather running through my head, I headed out to the waterfront. Just for you.
But, you will have to wait until I sort through the pictures.
In the meantime, I will tell you about this.

I was at the flower show on Thursday and wandering through the marketplace section, looking for free samples new and interesting things, when I came across a tea merchant stall. Ever since I taste tested fresh, exotic, blended loose leaf teas, I have been unwilling to go back to the store brands. Last summer I was introduced to Yerba Mate tea. It has more antioxidants than green tea and has many health benefits. But mostly, I liked the taste.

But then I saw the display of gourds and metal straws, I immediately thought of Betty in Paraguay. Betty had casually mentioned in her blog about having tereré. Then she had to explain what it was, which you can read here. (Or you can check the link above for Yerba Mate).

Anyway, I thought this was pretty neat to learn about the South American way of drinking this tea out of a gourd with a straw (bombilla) last week, then to actually find them. And I love meeting people who are so excited about their product. He happily opened as many jars of tea to let me smell as I wished all the while sharing information about the flavours and differences and benefits. And he was excited that I had just learned a little about these strange cups.

It was just too interesting to pass up, so I had to buy one. I was instructed how to 'season' the gourd (fill with hot water and let it sit overnight), how to fill the gourd with the tea leaves and how to drink from the metal straw. That metal straw had me a little worried.

I bought a Mango Yerba Mate and a Lemon Rooibos tea to try. One teaspoon into the cup. Fill with hot water. Let it sit - keeping the metal straw out of the hot water!
My gourd has been seasoned and the tea steeped...

It is difficult to get around the idea of drinking something hot through a straw. This is not meant for fast consumption, but for savouring.

The straw makes for a more intense flavour.
Almost in the same way that drinking through the little hole in the takeout cup lids will do.

This might take a bit of getting used to.
I wish I had a bigger gourd...


  1. I´m so glad you are trying new things!! I so wish I could be there and show you how we "do" it. I see from your picture, that you added a lot of water. What we do is add more yerba leaves, so that the gourd is about half full (with the "bombilla" metel straw already in the gourd). Then we pour a little bit of water on top, and sip it till it´s empty. It´s about one or two big swallows. Then you add more water and give it to the next person. Always taking turns, slowly savoring the tea. I know it sounds weird to share a straw, but it is so traditional here, we don´t even think twice anymore.
    Thanks for sharing the link with everybody and I hope this will catch on.
    I´ve never tasted mango flavored Yerba before, but it´s sounds good. I hope you are liking it!

  2. Hi, Betty! Ah, yes, he did mention that I should keep adding water, I just didn't realize I should be adding so frequently. I only put in 1 tsp of tea leaves (which was almost strong enough for me) and had just stirred the tea before taking the pic, but I will try it your way and do a taste test!

    I think mango is the flavour of the decade - it seems to be added to almost everything.

  3. a metal straw? a serious contradiction in terms as far as I can see.
    Mate (imagine the accent on the e) used to be the prize for winning some TV guessing game in Germany many decades ago; week after week, the enthusiastic compere (again, the accent is imaginary) would present the winning contestant with his his little bag of tea, much like he'd present a cheque for a lot of money nowadays.

  4. Burnt lips on a metal straw supping very weak tea! Think I shall stick to my dear little blue tea pot!
    Interesting to see how some make tea though.

    Nuts in May

  5. If you let the tea cool a bit, Friko, it works well.
    And with the price of this tea, I should be getting one of those locked tea chests to keep it in!

  6. It is fascinating, Maggie May, and so very different!
    The tea isn't all that weak either, as the gourd holds less than 1 Cup. But I did try it Betty's way with more tea leaves and it was quite strong, yet never got bitter.

  7. My grandfather had a yerba mate gourd and straw on his mantel from one of his South American travels.

  8. It would certainly be an easy souvenir to bring home, SAW, as it is extremely lightweight. Do you know if he ever used it?

  9. i like you trying that out - adventurous. and a good tea is always a great thing to have.

  10. Its amazing how many ways and ceremonies there are about tea! Never seen it in a gourd before though!

    You are very adventurous - I think I might stick with my teapot!

  11. You are a good sport for willing to give that a try. Most of us are stuck to our owm methods of making and drinking tea. I know I am, I'd be afraid that I would not like it at all. The gourd is pretty, though, and an interesting object to own with the straw.

  12. Even if you don't continue to drink your tea that way, it will make a great conversation piece! So interesting! You find the most amazing things on your little jaunts. May I go with you someday?

  13. You had a very interesting encounter. I'm yet to drink tea from a gourd. Have drunk from clay cups to the earthy taste of clay, but not gourd. I'm sure it would have its own flavour to bring.

    A plastic straw might kind of melt in conveying hot tea. Metal straw makes sense.

  14. I would also like to try a true Japanese tea ceremony, Gilly. And, I have a collection of teapots - somehow my mood, or the tea, just calls for a certain pot.

  15. I was afraid I had maybe just got caught up in the moment, Nora, and would regret spending the money. But, actually, I'm quite enjoying trying it out!

  16. Well, an intersting conversation it will be. And yes, Susan, we still have Ann Arbor to visit...

  17. The metal straw isn't that hard to drink from afterall, Anil. And adding more tea leaves did make it better. It is a far cry from the large mugs North Americans are used to, though!

  18. I have always been really curious about maté. I have to try it one day.

  19. Do find some and give it a try, Guillaume. i haven't noticed any of the health benefits, but it does taste good - with or without the straw!

  20. Oh great! Just when I discover the joys of coffee, you switch to the joys of tea...

  21. Don't worry, XUP, I was thrilled to read you were into espresso and am looking forward to sharing a coffee with you in May. (so get shopping for that espresso maker)


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