In 2010 during my junior year of high school I started drinking yerba mate.  The idea of using mate as a coffee alternative was the first thing that caught my attention when I was introduced to the drink by a couple of friends.  I decided to pick of some tea bags from the supermarket to see if it was really all that it was cracked up to be.  I started bring mate to class in this form and immediately noticed an increase in my focus.  Before this I was using Ritalin to combat my attention deficit disorder but it wasn’t long until I preferred mate as an herbal alternative.
After I’d been drinking mate for a couple of months and done some research about the cultural aspects of this wonderful plant, I decided it was time for me to graduate from teabags to the traditional gourd.  The tea bags were perfect when I needed a quick cognitive boost but I could tell that there was still much about this drink that I was missing out on.  I ordered a gourd online and spent the next few days studying the proper preparation technique online.  I was a little intimidated when I first tried to set up my own gourd but with the first sip I knew it was worth the extra effort.  The taste was stronger and more raw than I’d ever experienced in any kind of drink before.  In addition to the flavor, the sense of clarity that I’d become accustomed to with mate, was stronger than ever.

Hats off, from Allen!

Since the summer after my junior year I have been drinking mate from the gourd on a regular basis.  I have cultivated a culture of mate drinking among my friend in high school and college.  Circles are a popular weekend activity with my friends, a couple of which now have gourds of their own.  At this point I get the chance to fill up a gourd a few times a week.  I love the flavor, the ritualistic set up, and the wonderful feeling that mate gives me, but that’s not all that makes mate special.  For me, the most rewarding feeling has come from spreading the word about this magical plant.  There is no better feeling than seeing someone enchanted by mate for the first time.  Mate is just starting its inevitable sweep across North America and if you’re reading this you can consider yourself ahead of the curve.  Drink on!

Allen Winslow
Meriden, New Hampshire

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