our sweet morning nectar.

yerba mate
ingredients, canon 50d

I have been asked via email or comments quite often how Boho Boy and I make our yerba mate in the morning. I wanted to share it here, in this space...with a little visual to make it more tempting. ; ) But first let me share our story behind mate and how it became a daily ritual.

When trying to get pregnant, we let go of a lot of guilty pleasures...one of them being coffee. My parents are from back East (Massachusetts to be exact) and one of the many traditions they brought into California when the Andrade family migrated was a love for creamy sweet coffee. I grew up with the smell of java every morning as a child. I longed for the day when I was old enough to have my own cup but I settled for the coffee nips my Memere would pull out of her purse during her visits to California. Morning coffee was never just a drink to get us going. It was a tradition, a ritual...almost a spiritual experience. We knew to be quiet when mom and dad were enjoying their first cup. My father would get up an hour earlier than he needed to, so he could ease into his day with his steamy hot mug. As my sisters and I got older, this morning quietness was part of our own lives. Darlene still tried to preserve this ritual while raising teenagers. Pamela while raising three toddlers and me, up in my studio apartment in Berkeley, overlooking the Bay Bridge. Three sisters living very different lives, yet still carrying on that tradition of "Shhhh...just let me sip and stare out the window while I wake...".

So, having to give it up for the sake of happy sperms and eggs colliding in perfect harmony was HARD and uncomfortable...but we were willing to do whatever it took.

I knew myself well enough to know that cold turkey just never cuts it with me. So I first transitioned with Teeccino herbal coffee that we picked up at Whole Foods. From there, we tried Guayaki dark roast mate. We drank both with either vanilla almond milk or vanilla rice milk, depending on the diet at the time. Following the first time we did the master cleanse, we went off of caffeine completely for a while. That felt so, so good but at the same time, I really missed my ritual. Herbal teas and rice milk just didn't feel the same to me. It didn't have that rich, creamy thing going. I disconnected from needing that ritual and as much as that opened up time and space for other things, I longed for that sacred creamy sweet time again.

Then it happened. Boho Boy and I were on one of our many trips to Victoria, B.C. We were walking around downtown and stepped into the Solstice Cafe. A groovy, artsy, comfy, warm vibe of a place. A place that attracts unique and passionate folks, sitting in funky furniture having rich and intellectual conversations. We were looking at their teas and in large chalky white words we saw "Yerba Mate Latte". We also saw that they had vanilla rice milk AND agave nectar (which has been our sweetener of choice since trying the raw diet a few years back). We both practically squealed, ordered two and found our big comfy chairs. When we took a first sip from our steamy mug, we looked at one another and simultaneously said "mmmmmm....". It was different. Creamier. Greener. Yummier than the mate we were used to. It was pretty much a dessert in a cup. So, we asked them what mate they used and they told us it was a green leaf blend, not the brown, dark roast one. It was pure air-dried mate. Another difference was that it was steeped in all milk. We used to make it with hot water and then pour a bit of milk in the cup. But they used all 100% vanilla rice milk. Mmm Mmm good.

Since then, it has become our nectar of choice in the morning. For a long time, we would boil the vanilla rice milk in an electric kettle and pour it in our french press but we felt like that might be too many calories, so we are back to using water and heating up the milk in a saucepan and using half milk and half mate in our mugs. So here is the recipe::

Loose leaf Guayaki San Mateo Yerba Mate
Trader Joes Vanilla Rice Milk (any vanilla rice milk will do but this one is the creamiest).
Agave Nectar
French Press
Electric Kettle

We steep the yerba mate in our french press while heating up vanilla rice milk in a sauce pan. We get our mugs out and put about 2 teaspoons (sometimes more) of agave nectar in the mug. When both the milk is hot and the mate is done, we first pour the milk into the mug and fill it half way. We then pour the mate in until the mug is full. I was taught to always pour the milk in first because it will mix more evenly. Stir in the agave nectar from the bottom and Voila!

Prepare to be addicted. I've already converted a few friends after they have stayed the night.

Yes, its still caffeine in a cup. Its perhaps just a wee healthier than coffee. Who knows. Always controversial, really. All I do know is that this is one guilty pleasure I don't want to let go of for a long time. It makes me happy.