Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/125

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121
NATIONAL EXPOSITION AT RIO DE JANEIRO

rain-water, which is flowing downhill—nothing more—and, unfortunately for the railroad, nothing less!

Another exhibit, mention of which is suggested by the above note on coffee, is that of maté. Barrels and bags and smaller samples of maté are seen best in the exhibits of the state of Parana. The common name for maté, "Paraguay tea," associates this plant with Paraguay, but Brazil is becoming a more and more important maté-producing country. When white men came to these parts of South America, the Indians were found to be drinking maté, and the Jesuit missionaries soon discovered the excellent properties of the plant and forthwith adopted the native custom of using it. The maté tree grows to be 10 to 20 feet high; its natural habitat is on the plateaus 1,500 or more feet above the sea, and chiefly in Matto Grosso, Paraná and Paraguay. It is now extensively grown on plantations. Advocates of the use of maté as a drink, in place of tea and coffee, have gone very far in attributing to this herb medicinal, nutritive and stimulating qualities which would seem to make maté an absolute essential to health and happiness. The writer has before him at this moment a report on maté, made to a commercial and industrial body in Paraná a few years ago, and in this account the benefits to be derived from the use of maté tea are enumerated at great length. But whether these beneficial qualities are exaggerated or not, the fact remains that maté-drinking is very much on the increase, and that those who indulge in it are practically unanimous in stating that maté is far superior to tea, in not producing insomnia or nervousness. Americans who want to see a maté factory will do well to visit Curityba, the capital of the state of Paraná. There the "Fabrica Tibagy," one of the largest in Brazil, will be freely opened to their inspection. This factory exported last year 3,000,000 kilograms of maté, the whole amount exported from Paraná being 30,000,000 kilograms. The leaves and small stems are brought to the factory in burlap or rawhide bags, and after being thoroughly dried, in ovens, are passed through a screening process, which separates the stems and leaves, according to their size. The coarsest stems are used for fuel; the less coarse ones are sold for the cheaper grades of maté. The leaves are then carefully sorted, according to their quality, and are next run through crushing machines. The best maté is in the form of a very fine olive-green powder. Maté tea is prepared much like ordinary tea. It may be taken in a cup, if properly strained, but the native way is to leave the powder in the water and to suck up the tea through a tube provided at the lower end with a fine strainer. The taste of maté to the novice is not unlike that of a very weak solution of hot turpentine. It is therefore safe to say that maté-drinking is an acquired taste for those who are accustomed to ordinary tea. Most of the Brazilian maté goes at present to the