Warning: There is some evidence that Mate may have some MAOI characteristics. It may not be a good idea to drink Mate if you are taking MAOIs.
I recently managed to find loose leaf Mate at a semi-reasonable price locally and am taking a break from the coffee again. I really, really love the coffee, but find that it messes with my circulation and if I drink too much, it gives me the shakes.
Mate has a very solid stimulant effect without the shakes (at least for me). I actually feel a little more alert with it and feel better overall, than I do with coffee. While involved in a discussion at my brother's blog, I mentioned it to someone and they asked about it, so I thought that rather than posting about it there, I would do so here.
My preferred method of brewing, is to use a french press. Unfortunately, french presses don't seem to last long with me (and I can't afford my dream FP) so I am using my Malita #2 cone basket to filter. Another reasonable method is to use fill your own tea-bags. A method that I have never used and just wouldn't, is the regular drip coffee maker.
I am kind of weird about brewing beverages. Being relatively poor, I have always sought the pleasures that I can for the lowest price possible. One of my luxuries in life are my beverages.
As it pertains to coffee, I am pretty certain that I have managed to own every possible type of brewing system out there. I have used the traditional Tai brewing basket and once owned a fairly nice Turkish coffee set. Unfortunately, Turkish coffee done properly is very time consuming, especially if you use "real" cardamon (i.e. still in the hull), hull it and grind it with the coffee. The less said about Japanese brewing the better - most Japanese people who do coffee use western coffeemakers or buy it in a bottle. Suffice to say that I am a hardcore javaphile.
The best cup of simple coffee one can brew, is with the aforementioned Mellita filter basket. Grind your beans for each cup. For a real treat, either roast your own or get some that were fresh roasted about eight hours before you plan on brewing (trust me, you want that eight hours, otherwise the gas in the beans will make a huge mess when it comes into contact with hot water). If you're actually interested in roasting your own, which is relatively easy and not terribly expensive, either google it or ask me. So you now have your fresh ground coffee and put it in the filter, I like four tablespoons for one twelve to fourteen ounce cup. Boil your water to a hard boil and let the water sit at room temp for eight to ten minutes. Pour it through.
My favorite method is to use the same amount of coffee, but to put it together with cold or room temperature water and let it brew for about eight hours, then filter it. This is much easier in a french press.
For mate, you want to be very careful about the temperature of the water. If you are using hot water at all, it is a good idea to just cover the leaf with cold water. Mate has an interesting composition that is easily cooked off if the water is too hot. I brew it cold. This is why I don't care for the drip maker method.
Again, my favorite method is cold brewing. But with mate, you really don't need to let it brew for all that long. An hour is usually sufficient. And you can pour more water over it after the first run, some people like to after the second as well. If you are drinking it throughout the day, this is actually a very reasonable way to do it, as each subsequent run is milder than the last.
If you're lucky, I may take the time to really write a good piece that gets into tea as well. Because I really am a neurotic freak when it comes to the beverages.