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Mate cocido is a variation on the traditional tea-like drink known as mate that is popular in South America, particularly in Argentina. It involves containing the leaves of the plant known as yerba mate in a tea bag or other type of porous device and then heating up with the water in which it is steeping. The methods used to make mate cocido lead to it being considered a completely different drink than other types of mate and it also is consumed differently despite being made of essentially the same ingredients. In addition to being a stimulant, mate cocido has many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, providing vitamins and minerals, and delivering antioxidants to the body.
The main difference between traditional mate and mate cocido is the way in which the tea is brewed. A standard mate is prepared by pouring hot water over loose yerba mate leaves and stems that have been ground. A mate cocido drink is made by putting the bagged yerba mate into water and heating it before removing the leaves. This means that, unlike mate, mate cocido will not contain any yerba mate particles in the liquid and can be sipped from a normal cup. When serving regular mate, a special filtered straw is used to remove particles from the tea.
One of the aspects of brewing mate cocido that some people consider essential is the initial soaking of the leaves. This is a process that involves steeping the leaves in cool water for several minutes before adding it to the water in which it will be brewed. Pre-soaking is meant to soften the flavor of the leaves and prepare them for the heat of the brewing water, which has the potential to scald the oils in the yerba mate and create a very bitter taste.
Breakfast is one of the most common times of the day when mate cocido is brewed and enjoyed. Sugar or honey can be added so it is sweet, or it can be flavored with fruits, herbs or vanilla. The tea is often accompanied by sweet pastries in the morning. It also can be used during afternoon tea, an event known as merienda in Argentina.
The ground leaves of the yerba mate plant come in several forms, all of which can be used to make the cocido variety of the tea. They can be sold in tea bags or as loose leaves, in which case the leaves will have to be contained in a tea ball to make cocido. There also is a version of powdered yerba mate that can be dissolved in hot water, removing the need for steeping.