EDITOR’S NOTE: Bombilla & Gourd ceased operations as of the end of the beginning
of 2009. While the product is no longer available, please enjoy the
Maté Overview below.
CAPSULE REPORT: Maté is a hot or cold-water infusion of the yerba maté leaf that is becoming increasingly popular due to an enviable nutrition package of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It has more caffeine than energy drinks but calming properties that deliver “calm energy.” Traditionally brewed as a hot tea, this line from Bombilla & Gourd is the maté version of flavored bottled teas. Made with unsmoked maté leaves, it avoids the tobacco-smoke profile that some people don’t enjoy in traditional maté, offering a milder, sweeter profile. The line is certified organic, Fair Trade Federation-certified and kosher.
Yerba maté (MAH-tay), made from the leaves of the maté tree that grows in the South American rainforest, is a beverage on the ascent. It’s riding the crest of healthy beverages and energy drinks. Maté has 90% more antioxidants than green tea; and while it has more caffeine than an energy drink, it has components that eliminate the caffeine jitters. In fact, with 24 vitamins and minerals and 15 amino acids, it’s one of the most nutritious beverages on earth; like coffee and tea, in its natural brewed state it is calorie free (as an herbal infusion, it is also referred to as a tea).
You can read all about maté and its cultural background in our review of Guayakí Maté, a traditional line of tea bags, leaves plus bottled drinks; and a bit more in our review of Sol Maté, a sparkling drink that’s a very different take on maté—its effervescence is as refreshing as a beer. as the next “hot” beverage. Beloved in South America, where it is drunk daily by millions of people, it is awaiting discovery by the rest of the world.
Yerba maté is drunk throughout South America—Argentina and Uruguay—from a gourd and a metal straw called the bombilla, hence the name of the company (although ironically, the company makes only bottled teas, not the brewed teas that would be drunk through a bombilla and gourd).
The gourd is the cup in which the maté is both brewed and drunk. It is often a dried calabash gourd, but may also be made of wood, bamboo, ceramic or metal shaped like gourds. Depending on the wealth of the owner, the gourds can be simple, trimmed with silver as shown in the photo at right, or elaborately decorated with heraldic designs with floral motifs. Maté leaves are packed into the gourd and hot water is added to steep them (maté leaves can be steeped in hot or cold water). When the infusion is complete, the tea is sipped through the bombilla, a metal straw, generally bronze or nickel (although affluent individuals may sport bombillas in precious metals). The bombilla acts as a sieve: The submerged end is flared, with small holes or slots that allow the brewed liquid in and keep the steeped leaves out. Bombillas are often passed down, and quality metal straws can last for generations. Photo of bombilla and gourd by Fernando Mengoni | SXC.
In South America, maté is a shared experience. Traditionally, The bombilla and gourd are passed between friends with the host who prepared the brew taking the first and strongest drink. In this sense, the bombilla and gourd is not only a symbol of maté but of friendship and shared experience.
The maté is used in Bombilla & Gourd drinks is grown in northeastern Argentina by EcoTeas, a fourth-generation, sustainable family farm and a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Fair Trade Federation is an organization of wholesalers and retailers that sell 100% Fair Trade products. It is a different type of organization from Transfair, (TransFair.org), part of the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FairTrade.net) and the U.S. authority for the Fair Trade Certification designation.
Bombilla & Gourd Bottled Maté Flavors.
Bombilla & Gourd Yerba Maté debuted this summer in five flavors: Blueberry, Lemon, Mint and Honey, Peach and Pomegranate. Each is lightly sweetened with evaporated cane juice, which brings the caloric tally to 80 calories per 16-ounce bottle, half of that per eight-ounce serving (for those of us who drink just half the bottle). We found all flavors to be enjoyable, some more so than others.
The flavor profile of Bombilla & Gourd is very different from Guayakí Maté: a softer, more delicate flavor profile, where the fruit floats atop a tea-like maté flavor—it actually tastes like powdered instant tea, Camellia sinensis, true tea (Guayakí’s is smokier, toastier style). There is a tiny bit of tartness from the citric acid (vitamin C) used as a natural preservative. The other ingredients are simply filtered water and natural fruit flavor.
Blueberry is light, with a juicy sweet blueberry flavor, our personal favorite.
Lemon has an overwhelming sweet and sour taste, reminiscent of a lemon Jolly Rancher. It is most similar to a typical bottled lemon iced tea in flavor.
Mint and Honey leans to the syrupy side; the mint seems more herbal than sprightly. Still, it is a comforting flavors, similar to a hot “feel better” tea.
Peach has a subdued peach essence with a grassy background quality. While peach is a perennial best-seller in bottled drinks, and this flavor is pleasant, it is not the peachy-sweet drink that many peach lovers may expect.
Pomegranate is also on mild side of flavor intensity. There is typically pomegranate flavor, but the “tea” notes seem more heightened. This is our second favorite flavor, but the choicer reflects our personal taste for sweeter fruit flavors in a bottled tea rather than herbal, grassy and tart ones.
Fair Trade Federation-Certified
Bombilla & Gourd mate is a Fair Trade product, but people may be confused at the particular logo, which isn’t the familiar Fair Trade Certified seal, shown at the right.
There are typically two ways a product or company is certified Fair Trade. TransFair, which provides the Fair Trade Certified label, certifies individual products—a particular tea, chocolate or coffee, for example. The Fair Trade Federation, a separate organization, certifies actual companies, not individual products, stating that their purchasing methods, employment practices, sourcing, etc. complies with what would be termed “Fair Trade.” Some types of products do not have a definition for “fair trade,” because the products are relatively new on the market and the process for certification bodies to decide on standards is long and bureaucratic. Yerba maté is one example of a such a product: No yerba maté product currently carries the “Fair Trade Certified” seal because the Fair Trade standards have not yet been defined. However, there are maté products that do carry the Fair Trade Federation seal. The companies that produce them are certified by the Fair Trade Federation, even though the product itself is not Fair Trade Certified by TransFair.
All of the Bombilla & Gourd teas would make a perfect accompaniment to a salad or sandwich during lunch, or a refreshing beverage at any point in the day.
Bombilla & Gourd MATÉ
Bottled Yerba Maté Beverages in Blueberry, Lemon, Honey Mint, Peach and Pomegranate
Certified Kosher by OU
USDA Certified Organic
Fair Trade Federation-Certified
$1.49 to $1.69
Available at fine food markets and grocery stores nationwide. Find a store locator at BombillaGourd.com
Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.
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