Early Saturday morning, Chile’s second largest city of Concepcion was shook by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake, cracking the pavement, toppling buildings and destroying many lives.  The effects of the quake were said to have been so strong that they were felt across the continent in Rio de Janeiro.

the devastationAs of the writing of this blog, the death toll is already over 700, and the number of those still missing, including many Americans, is tremendous.

In the face of such utter devastation, this Tea Sommelier hopes to honor the country in the best way he can: by celebrating their tea culture.

Chileans, unlike many Western cultures, do not eat 3 meals a day, rather four.  One of these, not surprisingly (since they were once colonized by Europeans), is “tea.”   With that being said, it shouldn’t be a shock to learn that Chileans are big tea drinkers.

Their drink of choice, like most countries in the region, is Yerba Mate.  Traditionally brewed in a hollowed-out gourd called a cuia, and slurped through a straw with a sieve at the end called a bombilla, mate is especially enjoyed in the rural regions, where the traditions of drinking the beverage have gone on for hundreds- maybe even thousands – of years.

Chileans believe that drinking the yerba mate is considered to be more than just good for the body; it’s also good for the soul. Drinking it can be a form of meditation or reflection – allowing the goodness to infuse into the body while stimulating and resting the mind.

In the wake of this, yet another horrendous natural disaster, I genuinely hope that the fine folks of Chile will feel a bit of goodness infused in their lives very soon.