Project Mate Bar in Delray Beach Celebrates One Year Anniversary | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Cocktails & Spirits

Project Mate Bar in Delray Beach Celebrates One Year Anniversary

European settlers did not discover the invigorating powers of Yerba Mate until the 17th century. But for almost two centuries before, the indigenous tribes of South America had been harvesting the Ilex paraguarensis tree and steeping its leaves for the sense of community it promoted.

Last year this mystical drink arrived in Delray Beach at Project Mate Bar. While yerba mate is available at health markets and Whole Foods, this bar is the first of its type in the South Florida, and maybe even the state. They're celebrating their one year anniversary Sunday night.

See also: Try the Inebriating Elixir at Mystic Water Kava Bar Before It's Banned

Twirling her long dark hair, co-owner Daniele Flores puts down her gourd (a traditional cup that holds her concoction of Yerba Mate) and slurps through the long metal straw that filters the leaves from being ingested. She rests this odd contraption on the counter to explain the different flavored teas to an older woman, who after trying them all in the shop, wanted to take a box home to share with her family.

"It's social, and about sharing," Flores explains while sipping her brew. "It's a friendship conductor. In the ancient times mate was about listening and talking to each other. This space was created to be an extension of that."

Mate is harvested in the rainforests of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. The branches of the tree are cut and roasted over an open fire to release natural enzymes (this process gives the tea its signature smoky flavor). Cultivators in this region belong to the indigenous tribes. The recent popularity of mate -- there are mate bars throughout Europe and a mate beer exists too -- has bolstered their economy.

The herbal tea is cultivated differently across South American cultures, and depending on the region, will vary in taste. In Argentina, the leaves are fermented longer, making their version of the drink more acidic. In Brazil, the leaves are packaged almost immediately after harvest, and has less of the woodsy flavor.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson

Latest Stories