Answering the call to preserve nation’s yerba mate ritual
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.