An­swer­ing the call to pre­serve na­tion’s yerba mate rit­ual

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

BUENOS AIRES — Ar­gentina’s bit­ter-tast­ing yerba mate tea is def­i­nitely an ac­quired taste, as ev­i­dent from the fact that few out­side the coun­try drink it, or even know about it.

But there is one as­pect of the mate tea tra­di­tion that peo­ple of all back­grounds im­me­di­ately de­light in: The beau­ti­fully crafted cups made of cal­abash gourds, called mates, and sil­ver straws, called bom­bil­las, which com­prise a typ­i­cal tea set.

Crafts­man Ra­mon Vidal is help­ing to keep that tra­di­tion at his work­shop in the San Telmo dis­trict of Buenos Aires, where cob­ble­stone streets and old mansions dic­tate the pace of de­lib­er­ate daily life.

“I al­ways like to work with my hands,” Vidal told Xin­hua, dur­ing a visit to his shop.

Dab­bling in sculp­ture and ce­ram­ics, Vidal, who once wanted to be­come an electro­mechan­i­cal en­gi­neer, was even­tu­ally led to work with me­tals, where he found his true call­ing.

“I grad­u­ally trained through the work, making made-to-or­der pieces. I also learned through books and took cour­ses with sil­ver­smiths who were much more ex­pe­ri­enced than I was,” said Vidal.

Ar­gen­tines drink yerba mate not only ev­ery day, but some­times all day long. It’s not un­usual to see some­one head out into the streets, a gourd in one hand and a ther­mos in the other, to reg­u­larly


Ra­mon Vidal dis­plays his hand­made tea sets at his work­shop in Buenos Aires.

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