Just like with every other important issue on the planet, the United States is now catching on to trends from two years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, President Barack Obama loves drinking yerba mate tea. And as you can see, he can’t stop talking about it.
Obama recently took a friendly little trip down to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to meet with their new president, Mauricio Macri. While he was there, he visited a memorial, Parque de la Memoria, danced the tango, and name dropped Jorge Luis Borges, who is probably frantically rolling over in his grave trying to get at Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.
But most importantly, Obama picked up on the best hipster trend to hit tea in recent years: Mate. It’s so cool you even have to buy special equipment to drink it the real way, with a silver straw and cup.
Mate is sort of like coffee and sort of like tea. It’s like tea in the sense that it’s made by soaking the dried leaves of the yerba mate plant in boiling water, usually directly in the cup. It’s like coffee in the sense that it has an impressive amount of caffeine and most people in Argentina are pretty much addicted to it.
The “straw” is actually called a bombilla, and its unique design means it’s like a straw and a sieve in one. When you drink from one, the small holes allow liquid in, but block the chunky leaves. So, no need for tea bags (and most mate drinkers will tell you that the yerba mate tea bags sold in the store are complete bullsh*t, but really, it’s fine) or separate sieves for the tea.
The taste of mate varies, but for the most part, it has a bitter, grassy taste due to the high tannin content. Imagine drinking a very strong green tea with the aftertaste of an absinthe-like astringent. If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you, how about the effects? Mate’s supposed benefits are alertness, mental clarity, and energy without jitters. Plus, you look REALLY cool when you drink it.
Obama said the mate was “quite good” and that he wanted to bring it home with him from Argentina. And he probably did, and didn’t have to go through customs or anything. After all, as Obama stated in his speech, “On Air Force One, I can usually do what I want.” What a mate-drinking bad-ass.