Sorry, I lied. Unless you have been sipping these fermented green leaves for years, it will not be this vile* concoction that quenches any part of you, or anything except your travelling companion’s splattered t-shirt.
Nevertheless, few self-respecting travelers will be able to pass through Montevideo (or any of the other locales in which it is the ubiquitous drink of choice) without at least attempting a sip.
At a cafe full of true blue Montevideons (I’m sure that can’t be the correct word?) we made a sight, and in retrospect probably an unintentionally offensive one – the loud English (and Dutch) speaking gringos making faces at this ancient, delicately-brewed delicacy.
In much the same way as green tea, but in concentrated form, matē is chockablock full of healthy anti-oxidants, cancer-fighting properties, bad-cholesterol lowering powers and many more claims to promote the health of those who are brave enough to partake.
Fitting then (aside, perhaps, from its aforementioned taste) that it began life – so the legend has it – as a drink of friendship, a gift to the Guarani people from the Goddesses of the Moon and the Clouds after they had been saved from the immortality-limiting predicament of being eaten by a jaguar while visiting earth. Judging from the taste bud terrorizing concoction that resulted, the goddesses must have considered the delivery from a toothy death a very mixed blessing.
*I’m sure – given this drink’s South American popularity – that there are many who don’t agree with my rude opinion of matē. Please don’t be offended, but rather tell us how you acquired the taste it and what it is about it that you love!