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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