There’s a common saying in the English speaking world that “curiosity killed the cat.” Sometimes curiosity can liberate it. If not for curiosity I never would have ventured out on my own and tried yerba mate. Without this glorious herbal beverage I would not be on the fantastic new journey of life I am on today. While I am not a socialite by any means, I am not the same solitary introvert I once was.

I have always had a questioning nature and have never found it easy to accept things just because those around me do. Many people in my life regularly drink coffee or cola, but neither of those ever appealed much to me. Coffee makes me feel tense and cola just is not satisfying. Before I found yerba mate I drank green tea fairly often – usually a few days a week. I still like tea (especially green tea) and I still drink it on occasion, but nothing I have tried comes close to yerba mate.

I do not remember exactly when I first stumbled upon an article on the Internet about yerba mate. It likely transpired on a Wikipedia excursion during which I sprung from article to article picking up bits of information about a wide variety of subjects. At some point after learning about yerba mate on the web, I found loose-leaf EcoTeas brand yerba mate at a local grocery store and I decided to take a leap of faith and buy some. I did not have any of the traditional “mateware” (gourd, bombilla, etc.) so I brewed it with a mesh basket-type infuser I bought for use with loose leaf green tea. I was immediately intrigued because it was so different. I had no idea that I would go from liking yerba mate to considering it an almost daily sacrament.

Frank hangin’ out outside!

Now more than a year after my first sip of yerba mate I have three natural gourds, a wooden gourd, a silicone gourd and several bombillas and brands of yerba. I drink between half and one whole liter of mate almost every day. I am not addicted; I just do not want to stop!

Why would I want to stop when yerba mate has had so many positive effects in my life? It has helped me lose 35 lbs and I have more energy than ever before. The cloudiness of mind I once had is greatly diminished and my priorities are shifting from fleeting moments of nearly instant gratification to more laborious yet much more fulfilling pursuits. I watch significantly fewer television programs and movies and read more books and watch more documentaries. Put simply, I am learning to live a more purposeful life.

Perhaps the most significant role yerba mate has played in my life is that of a spiritual and social catalyst. I am not experienced with meditation, but I suspect the effects of yerba mate are similar to it in some ways. When I drink alone it helps dissolve my “ego” and I am truly in the moment. Nothing else matters but being here now and being one with all of existence. When I drink with others I open up to ideas and discussions I may not have had much interest in otherwise and I contribute more to the conversation and camaraderie. I have met people online and in real life that I would not have met if not for yerba mate. Much of my life is still abode in solitude, but I feel more connected than ever before.

The “holy holly” as some call it is a unique herb. It is not an end-all cure to the world’s problems or all individuals’ ailments, but for many people the bombilla can serve as a pipeline to a better life and a better world. Every sip helps cleanse the body and the soul and brings the matero closer to others and to nature itself. Do not be afraid. To new drinkers I say this: The flavor may not appeal to you at first, but give it a chance and you will be rewarded greatly.

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