Friday, August 15, 2008


Traditional Tea Drinkers Shun Dangerous Bottles

By dangerous bottles I refer to those with so-called "recyclable" label # 7' which contain BPA (see link below to a really great article on*.

We here try not to buy or use ANY plastic bottles--just a ceramic or glass cup to use over and over and over again... or a gourd mate to use over and over and over again...

So don't tell me-- "it's okay... because I'm going to throw that pre-packaged, pre-mixed Guayaki bottle into the recycling and all will be well with the world."

Do you know what has to happen to a bottle that actually does make it into the recycling?

First of all it has to get to a recycling plant. Most rural areas which have a separate container for glass are not actually recycling it at all; they are smashing it down to bury as "inert waste" such as concrete or rock. It is only a slight betterment for them legally in that they can claim a higher percentage of "inert material" going into their landfill.

So, say your little Snapple bottle actually gets to a plant for recycling. If it isn't separated into "clear" but has been allowed (usually) to mix with other colors (fun in society, but bad in recycling) it will go to a less valuable pile. In many cases if it has been mixed it won't end up getting recycled at all if the value of mixed material is too low. It might end up as asphalt road bed.

Well; Lucky bottle hops onto a conveyor and a VERRRY strong magnet, with lots of electricity running through it, pulls out all of the (not only steel but) aluminum as well--because a VERRRY strong magnet will really do that!

Then it's on to the ferociously hot natural gas burning incinerator to burn off labels and trash and rubber condoms (I've worked in recycling and now know where the general population's favorite place to cast these off is!)

After burning is crushing--with a giant electric-(thus coal or hydro or nuclear) powered steel crusher which goes at those little ravaged Lipton bottles with its many whirling iron teeth. After crushing of course is hauling, because most recycling plants don't actually make the bottles; they get driven far and wide for making Gallo green, the exclusive Coke green, etc.

Then back to the factory for bottling, for labelling... when all along you could have just heated up a pot of water and thrown in some tea in your good old mate or tea cup.

If you do have your own humble tea cup or gourd you will now be able to sit back and relax thinking of all of the waste and motion you have avoided.

If, like us, you are interested in starting a re-use campaign in the U.S.of A. please send along any good research you may run across regarding getting congress to pass a law.


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Sunday, June 08, 2008


Who Loves a Big Mouth?

It's going to be hard to write what I am really writing about with that shark mouth looming about on the left... but I will give it my best try.

The answer to the title question is "no-one" if we're talking about sharks nipping about our ankles or friends who can't keep a secret... but the answer is "some people do" when we're discussing mate gourds, cuias, and porongos for drinking yerba mate tea.

What a "wide mouth" mate gives us is the ability to pour in the yerba easily and have a wider "pouring pattern"--as our favorite Correntino here likes to point out to us small mouth Australes. For gourds which hold a whole lot of tea, and with which we want to [God, that shark is unnerving me!] drink the tea for a very long time, a wide mouth is easier to manage: pouring can be done in small amounts all around the wide and open rim of the mate. You will notice the cuias with a wide rim (even if the neck is narrow) have a great area to drip the water and not disturb the actual body of tea: this helps keep part of the tea dry for a much longer period.

[I could have put a photo of a yawning boston terrier--but I decided to go for "fearsome" instead of sickeningly--dare I say--"cute". Nevertheless, my innate ocean swimming fears are currently wishing I'd gone for the terrier.]

In defense of the small mouth mates I have to say that they are artistically appealing, help keep the heat in the mate, prevent spilling, and in some cases just follow the natural shape of the gourd. Most mate openings are around 1-1/4 inches and this allows the bombilla (with average bulb size of 3/4-inch) to easily enter.

A large mouth mate, in comparison, is not MUCH larger--but the difference is great to a mate drinker. A large mouth mate will be anywhere from 2 to 3 inches--not including the cuia rim "flare" which can be much larger; again, not much of a difference, but these really seem wide to someone used to a regular mate. In addition, some large brazilian bombilhas will not enter a small mouth mate. If you have any questions which item is right for you, or which mate will fit your bombilha, be sure and ask!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008


Tea Party Nominee and Leader of the Tea World

Now it's time to talk politics and announce our Yerba Mate Tea Gourd election 2008 nominee debate and tea party. We're all deciding where our allegiance lies and looking for clues in the candidate's words and actions which will help us cull the braggards and the big-wigs: now is our chance to finally judge who will rise to the top and be the leader of our tea party. [Wherein the mad hatter has been in control for far too long now.]

These are the ground rules of the debate:

  1. The moderator (yours truly, the Great Yerbini) will fill a large porongo 3/4 full with Playadito yerba mate tea--con palo. [By sales alone this tea has proven to be the most popular tea among thousands of yerba mate fans visiting the Yerba Mate Tea Gourd and was thusly chosen for its general appeal and familiarity.]

  2. The moderator will heat water to exactly 70-degrees Celcius--measured by a thermometer (whose reading will be corroborated by all of the various presidential nominee participants.)

  3. The mate will be poured by the moderator/matero to the same less-than-full height for every participant.

  4. Bombilla straws will be drawn and the participant who picks the short, 6-inch straw will go first; passing of the mate proceeding clockwise--around the circle of debaters-turned-yerbamateros.

  5. The moderator will refill after every participant takes the mate... and will pass it, filled, to the next.

We fully expect to truly understand our nominees on a much deeper level after this tea party.

If Barak Obama suddenly says, upon his first sip, "Boy, the bitter voters of Pennsylvania were nothing compared to this!" We will assess him critically. If he continues to drink until his portion is gone and the air enters the bombilla with that satisfied slurping sound we will take his bitter remark for what it was: a passing observation--nothing more. "The disenfranchised voters are turning to guns, religion, and strange tea!" If he refrains from twiddling around the bombilla in the porongo we will carefully record him as a wise man not predisposed to tamper with things which are already working and someone capable of "staying the course."

When Hillary's turn comes, and she grabs the mate with a firm grip and stern visage, we might consider her a bit too 'tight' for the Tea Party and, when she tries to fall back on her husband's line and say she "sucked, but did not swallow"--we'll throw her right out with the spent yerba! Hillary is no bombilla twiddler, and she won't stop halfway--but when she takes a drink and starts seeing snipers again we will have to watch out. What's this? Oh, 'Hill'... she's taken a sip and started to cry! "It's so bitter... so sweet..." she wails, wiping here eyes on her sleeve and slurping the last of her mate. This'll be a hard one people.

I do hope that John McCain can make it--as I have great respect for his remaining opposed to the Mad Hatter's dipping of the dormouse into the teapot for reasons of obtaining timely information. It was he who stood against many of those who would have undermined our civil rights even further than has already occurred. We appear to be headed to a justice befitting the Queen-of-Hearts herself. How, however, would Johnny drink his mate? Lord knows he would not pull out the bombilla under any circumstances--regardless of how washed-out and ineffectual the yerba was. Sometimes though, John you just have to start a new mate. Which brings me to the Spanish language association of the word maté with the accent on the'e' which means "to have killed" from the root verb matar or ¨to kill¨. In which case we could create the pun "to stop the mate", spelling it like some people here do with the accent on the 'e', except in Spanish. I'm sure I've lost you, but this might be an appropriate chant for some protesters to jump up and yell before our nation's rented SS officers pounce on them.

If Ron Paul can make it that would be great; there are many others I'd like to have had come and drink tea with us--including John Edwards. I think he'd have enjoyed a drink as green as this. Paul might find the whole passing communally just a bit too COMMUNAL if you know what I mean. I mean Libertarians don't even want public parks to be financed by the government. Oh... did I call Paul a Libertarian? Dennis Kucinich would look good toting a gourd and bombilla around; it could freshen up his old curmudgeon mothball image with a youthful vigor and flair. Our guess is that he will send the mate out to be analyzed and the session will have to be over. However, given the vast and sinister underground conspiracy to keep rogue outsiders away from central politics, these fellows will not show up.

Anyway... this is our plan; we'll let you know when the dates have been finalized. And if you have any guys, or gals, that are "in-the-know"; have your guys, and gals, talk to our guys, and gals; we'll fill the pava and get it on the stove.


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Thursday, March 06, 2008


St. Patrick's Day to be Green Tea Friendly

There's sacrilege involved in doing any manipulatin' of these holidays.

(That's probably what makes it so fun...) However: the laddie who started using drinking beer as an excuse for celebratin' what St. Patrick did (what did he do?)was already a wee bit on the "pushing it" side of things--don't ya think so?

[If it be true that the saint was "saintly" for slaying serpents--then the drinking might have been an understandable post-massacre enebrient to numb the brain from the environmental genocide of it all!]

Whoever added the green food color to the beer was really goin' too far... and so now I don't feel any twinge of guilt whatsoever in suggestin' that the day be moved over to tea.

I haven't done all of the footwork yet, but soon I'm certain that my letters to the ambassadors of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil will be reaching their destinations; convincing those countries to send a contingent of cultural ministers who will express and promote the non-alcoholic and stimulative reverie of party-time use of yerba mate in a gourd. It will take a little getting used to, but pubs will be able to brew it and serve it on tap as well, cask-conditioned, to give their patrons a little "taste-o-the-shamrock;" austral-style.

We already have some bartenders practicing getting a good head on the stuff and curling a deft shamrock in the top of the creamy latte foam versions (though we still be preferin' the amargo out-a the gourd don't ya know!)

It won't be on-line for this green season--however M.A.D.D. kisses the blarney stone every time we toast Here!Here! to jolly saint Patrick with mate gourds held high Clunk!Ckunk!

Have a safe Saint Patricks... and remember: Friends don't let friends drink anything but yerba mate tea!

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Friday, January 25, 2008



The Yerba Mate Tea Gourd and W.E.L.O.V.E.Y.O.U. (the World Exploratory Laboratory for Obvious Value in Yerba Opportunities Unlimited), residing in a straw bale compound in the Western woodlands of the U.S., have just completed deciding that a study conducted for the past several years is worth continuing to fund... for the value inherent in the actual experimentation in the study they were conducting.

In fact a major portion of the study, which involves drinking yerba with a loved one, has been expanded to include others that we love only just a little bit--as it has been found, upon further study, that 'we' like them more and more upon further study. The study found that 'we' also like them more and more when they learn how to pour a good 'mate' for 'us'--especially after the long training: a natural byproduct of the study.

Yerbatero Karl Heiss, of the Yerba Mate Tea Gourd, was quoted as saying, "It just doesn't make sense to give it up now--after we've done all of this stuff. I really think we can change the direction of the world. I'm even willing to expand things to include cats I wouldn't normally drink with... like religious people and republicans.

"In this day and age we can use all of the extra love going around that we can get. Right? Tea, not bombs, man... dig?

"It's like... we're all 'one' sittin' around passing the gourd and that's like as complicated as it needs to get...."

Upon further questioning the new insights he brought forth seemed to dry up like the last sips of a washed-out mate... however the basic gyst of the study results seemed to be a mandate for further study. This, of course, was after drinking several 'mates' with him--wherein we became so wired that we were practically unable to write, but spent the latter part of the evening "cutting a rug", as he said, dancing to acid jazz, old bebop, and hip-hop tunes. Our original notes, lost during this period, and much of the conversation, had to be reproduced from memory. [It is worth mentioning that we had quite a few more good memories, upon reflection, than we thought we had previously. There was both a quantifiable increase in memories, and increase in good memories--both observations which parallel actual findings from the study.]

Reading the study itself doesn't help much to comprehend, in a literal sense, what it has all been about. The actual wording, from their own scientific literature, states, "All further study shall be poured into the most worthy vessel possible (study should be made into what are the most worthy) and this should be investigated as slowly and joyfully as necessary, or as participants dictate at the moment, until such time as those involved in the study are moved to further investigation--whereupon another vessel shall be provided, other participants involved (by a natural selection process--to be determined by further study) and focus be put on how much focus in being put on the process of the studying and how this focus increases with further study, how joyful is the focus, and how the qualitative aspects of studying generate more or less desire and focus, and an enhanced focus on desire."

Upon the question of 'desire' several participants in the study (who declined to be named in this interview) twittered with maidenlike silliness on their couches, covered their mouths, or sipped their mates too fast and nearly choked with laughter. Those who did respond, with promise of anonymity, stated that the study of the desire (that manifested itself through the original study) was now, for them, the major focus... and they were requesting further bags of foundation research material in order to elope and get married--which they said could only enhance the true nature of their work in this study and the world at large.

As if in answer to the questions on my face I was directed by study subjects to several 6 through ten-year-olds who, it was said, were offspring of original study members. These, it must be said, seemed to be well-adjusted, gifted, and happy children who spent much time in study and the painting of pictures and playing of music--which greatly enhanced my quality of stay with the entire group. The greatest understanding of this came to me when I eventually forced myself to leave the premises and found I missed their nearly continual chatter and creativity; their padding and sliding of stocking feet over the hand-hewn hardwood floors, and positive outlook on life. I had asked a small group of four of them, who were carrying a thermos to their parents, what they though of all of 'this' (gesturing around at their parents). They looked at me quite seriously and replied, "There's a lot of love here."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The Best Sugar Plum Yerba

These are not sugar plums. These are the fairies.

If it were not for the fairies we would not be thinking of sugar plums.

If it were not for the fact that the fairies have kept all of the sugar plums to themselves--or else have been so slipshod at arranging a harvest of the little things--we'd've been tooth and belly-aching with the over-eating of sugar-plum laden goodies for hundreds of years now.

Nevertheless... we leafy green gods of herbology do not pretend to know all about the erstwhile habits of the spry and fruity, pink, wand-toting bugs. They flit hither and thither while we slurp lazily in the undergrowth; content to chaw on bitter leaf and acrid stem, smell wafting scent of smoking wood, scorch our whiskers with steaming stream and inhale breath of bursting bubbles. The faeries are but a glimpse of sun-reflected heaven on evening cloud to us. Even the nutcracker is a down-to-earth beast in comparison to the faeries; choosing to put his faith in the hard and substantive: the "real" nut. It takes him to high heights. Verily! to dance with the faeries themselves. But everyone knows a nut; how droll. Sometimes it's enough for an aspiring and hard-working bird just to know there's work to do. The faeries could care less for that type of solace. The faeries have a whole other occupation the high-flying nutcracker only rubs elbows with and we bitter gourd-scraping rodents know nothing about--nor want to.

Think about it: we haven't, each one of us, even found all of nature's flavours of the world... and yet we have invented a thousand artificial flavors to take the place of the one's we already know! Artificial cherry flavor--my gosh!--evidently because cherries are so elusive!

It may be simple-minded... but we are trying, turning over, every leaf--tasting to make certain that every one is like the last. WE won't have time to douse them with a sugar-plummy elixir any time soon now; that is a heady occupation for faeries of high mind. Just knowing, for us, that there is a flavor we do not possess the knowledge to understand is a better state of being for us. Perhaps it is the mindset of a bush-living vegetarian to shun the artifice and seek the out-of-mind reality... however we prefer to think of it as superior emotional protection... for a fickle faery could spend its life searching for an elusive imaginary flavor and move right on to the next or (even worse!) invent an artificial one when the ultimate one didn't make the head dance with it.

But we would be so terribly heart-tweaked (if we admit to it!) Like the child who dreams of elusive sugar-plums and awakes to find: ice on the inside of his window, a family that loves him--making murmuring sounds--fast asleep, a cold wood floor, a sense of new wonder grown from desire... and almost, if he could breathe a bit deeper, the smell of sugar plums! We silently admit to ourselves that we like the idea of tempering our life with bitter herbs... with the thought that there are sugar plum faeries hoarding the best flavors of all just to themselves. Have a happy holiday season and to all a good mate!

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Saturday, August 04, 2007


Wooden Mates Will Never Make it to the New World

...for the same reason that Columbus would never make it to the New World: his boat would sink from cracking and swelling of the wood... for the same reason that the Norse and the Chinese, and the Polynesians, and the Egyptians, and the Aleuts in Kayaks all never made it to the "New" World thousands of years before mighty Columbus the haughty and confused. Of course they all DID make it here... because wood and water DO mix--it's just that you have to keep it at a relatively stable humidity content (like as in totally submerged.)

You may be understanding by now that I am leading you on another adventure. We are not getting to India any day now. In fact the real reason wooden mates may not make it to the New World in any great quantity is that these "New Worlders" in general don't seem capable of coping with a little "abnormality" these days... such as a small crack in their mate cup. It is not supposed to happen to a "new" thing: the getting of a little crack in it. This is the thinking of a plastic mind [that's right I said "plastic mind" when I was really wanting you to think "spastic mind", but understanding that "plastic" refers to the fact that everyone has become accustomed to plastic's ability to perform the function of holding water so cheaply and UNIFORMLY. We have become UNIFORM these days, in large part, because of our ability to experience it through plastic. In the days of yore, when a gourd or a leather flask were the height of style in drinking vessels, we knew to ignore a few small.. cracks. Now it is as if the Nina is sinking and all of the future of "civilization" is going down with it!]

Yes, I put "civilization" in quotes, because I have great misgivings about what people mean when they say that. It just may be that dolphins and their ilk have the highest level of civilization on this planet. While touring through the oceans in great (getting lesser and lesser) pods chasing giant (becoming miniscule) schools of fish their lack of need and desire for material things is a great advantage. They may play with a boat occasionally... but then it's back to gnashing anchovies.

Grabbing a piece of bamboo from the forest floor and using it for a drinking vessel is inspired and useful. It is what our ancestors did. Inventing fire was useful. Sitting around with friends drinking yerba mate tea leaves out of a simple bamboo, wood, or gourd cup is both inspiring and useful (albeit a bit more deeply diving into artifice than simply snacking on live anchovies).

Put a price tag on it though and suddenly the natives are restlessly irritated and windging about the seep of tea coming out of their piece of carved wood. It happens. You have traded a few scheckels for a bit of history and found it wanting. If you bought a cruise on the Nina I am certain you would be complaining as well [the durned thing wasn't more than 40 feet long if I remember correctly!]

My advice is to have a seat on board and enjoy the ride; if you keep your top up you'll get there in one piece. Just remember: if Christopho Colombo made it so can you.

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