Type: Yerba Mate
Ingredients: Yerba Mate, Roasted Yerba Mate, Roasted Barley, Roasted Carob, Roasted Chicory
Purveyor: Mate Factor (all organic)
Preparation: One tablespoon put into an empty 10oz mug, rest of mug filled with approximately 150-degree water, sipped with bombilla
Now here is a keen angle. Mate Factor is branding its mate not as a tea, but as its own category of caffeinated coffee alternative. It really is a great job that they did. The package includes brewing instructions for a French press, a standard drip machine, even an espresso machine with a latte option. Very nice.
As for whether the product can actually work as an alternative to coffee, that depends. Someone looking for something that tastes like coffee will be disappointed; no tea or tisane will ever achieve that. But Mate Factor never sought to make something that tastes like coffee in the first place. They assembled a unique blend of ingredients, and what results is a rich, earthy brew with a flavor all its own.
The dry Dark Roast Yerba Mate, first of all, looks great. It is like looking at a fresh, prime, radiant example of pristine woodland earth in the springtime. Most of the mix is a bold, dark brown, and sprinkled about there are bright, deciduous greens and whites. The leaves smell sweet and chocolaty.
When brewed, the tisane switches gears and emits a strong scent of yerba mate. The other ingredients become quite peripheral to the aroma. The liquid is a dark brown, malty but translucent, rather like a black tea. There is nothing malty about the flavor though. The brew offers very smooth, even notes of yerba mate and chocolate. It is sweet but not so sweet that it starts to do a bad impression of chocolate milk. The barley gives it an extra dimension, a little depth and subtlety. But the principle flavor is definitely the yerba mate. This is good, because it lends credibility to the suggestion that it is meant to be brewed. Without the mate's presence, one would wonder if it would not be better just as a shake or something.
Fortunately, the yerba mate does indeed predominate, and it tastes quite ideal as a brewed beverage. I can definitely see making a latte or cappuccino out of this; the flavor and texture would integrate with the milk perfectly. Of course, I enjoyed it just fine prepared in the traditional way. All in all, Mate Factor did a splendid job creating, as they put it, a "healthy coffee alternative."