|The universal custom of drinking it is by sucking it through bombillas, from maté cups. A bombilla is a tube, which may be of the simplicity of a mere pipe stem, or an elaborately decorated silver, or silver mounted, work of art.|
Paraguay Tea from an Evergreen Shrub...
Introduced in Europe, where its use is increasing
Yerba maté, or Paraguay tea, is the daily household beverage of the masses of Paraguay, and it is consumed to a great extent also in Brazil and Argentina. It has been introduced into, Europe, where its use is increasing, writes Consul Cornelius Ferris Jr. of Asuncion. The tea is the product of a plant belonging to the species ilex of the family of ilkacase, related to the ilex aquifolium, an evergreen shrub or small tree well known in western Europe. The leaves of this plant are carefully toasted near the place where they are gathered, all the skill required in producing the tea being applied in the process of toasting. This is necessary in order to dry the leaves thoroughly and evenly, without scorching or affecting their flavor by smoke.
After toasting, the leaves are sent to the mill, where they are ground to fine powder and packed solidly into bags for market. There is no sorting, grading, cleanin, nor are any means taken to rid the product of impurities or foreign matter. The tea is prepared for drinking in the same manner as ordinary tea, and may be taken with sugar, cream, lemon or brandy. The universal custom of drinking it is by sucking it through bombillas, from maté cups. A bombilla is a tube, which may be of the simplicity of a mere pipe stem, or an elaborately decorated silver, or silver mounted, work of art.
Maté cups vary in style from a simple little gourd, to interesting specimens of local craftsmanship in silver. It is the custom to use a single maté cup, with its one bombilla, for an entire household, including all the visitors who may happen to be present, among whom it is passed, like a pipe of peace. To refuse to partake would be a breach of etiquette. The tea is said to be disagreeable at first, but it is readily adopted as a habit when the taste is once acquired. — San Francisco Call, 1910
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