Tag Archives: mint leaves

Hungarian Lemonade

It’s 27 C degrees in London, time to start thinking about strawberries, lemonade and ice-cream!


Two weeks ago I went to Budapest to attend a wedding. I found the country and the  people to be lovely, and I had a great time at the wedding, but what I loved the most was the food: strudel filled with ricotta and raisins, poppy-seed cakes with a filling of roasted apples…oh! the FOOD! If you go to Hungary my recommendation is that you eat.  Try as many things as you can.

Try Kürtőskalács with cinnamon and sugar or with almonds…


Anyway, as I was saying, the food was great, and from the many things I ate and drank, this lemonade was my favourite.

I think because I thought there wasn’t much more you could do to improve lemonade, after all, it is lemons and water… or so I thought.

I think when life gave Hungarians lemons, they just laughed  and proceeded to show Life that lemons, yes, lemons, could be turned into something amazing, with a little bit of skill. I’m sure life regrets deeply not having kept those lemons to make the lemonade herself.

There isn’t  an official recipe, the one in this post is the one I got from a nice waitress at one of the many restaurants I visited, but I’m sure different families have different recipes, so feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste.


So if you are already making plans in your head for the weekend, maybe thinking about  a picnic or spending some time in the garden, why not prepare this lemonade as a refreshing drink to take along?  It’s quite simple and super tasty!


Ingredients for 1 litre:

1 litre of soda water

2  lemons

1 lime

A quarter cucumber

1 orange

Mint leaves

Sugar (depending on how sweet you like yours, between 1/2 tablespoon and 3) or you can use a bit of honey, if like me you don’t use sugar.

Note: I didn’t have orange so I used grapefruit, the result was equally delicious. I only comment this because you’ll see grapefruit on the photos and it might be confusing 🙂

1.- Cut the lemon, lime and orange into wedges. Reserve 4 of each and place the rest on a jar. Add the sugar or honey.

2.- Use a muddler to crush the fruit and sugar together. Try to extract as much juice as possible.



3.- Remove the muddled fruit and discard.

4.- Cut the cucumber into wedges, add to the jar together with the mint and the fruit wedges you reserved. Then top with the soda water.

5.- Place in the fridge for an hour before drinking, so that the cucumber and mint leaves have time to infuse the liquid. Serve with ice cubes and enjoy outside, with a good book or a barbecue… Delicious and refreshing!!


For an alkaline version of this lemonade, use water instead of soda water, avoid using honey or sugar and replace the orange with grapefruit, that’s all 🙂

You can even give this drink a bit of ho’oponoppono by preparing it with Blue Solar Water!

Have a great day!



How to make Mate: An Amazing drink.


Tim Ferris, the author of “The 4-hour work week” calls mate “the creativity elixir” and claims it helped him write the book that made him famous. He discovered the drink when he was in Buenos Aires and kept the habit of drinking mate long after he left the country.

Mate is a South American drink. There are certain (small) differences between the way mate is enjoyed in different countries; in this post I’ll describe the way it’s prepared in Argentina.

You’ll need: A mate (some people translate it as gourd, but it is called mate, so let’s call it that), a bombilla (the metal straw you use to drink the mate, it has a filter at one end, so you don’t suck bits of the yerba through it, just the flavoured water) hot water and yerba mate.

Mate is the name of the drink and mate is the name of the gourd, just in case you got confused 😉

                                  At the back you can see the package of Yerba
At the back you can see the package of Yerba … and some yerba that fell on the page, ooops!

Yerba is a bitter-tasting plant. It comes dried, in big packages and looks a bit like loose green tea leaves (but tastes nothing like it). You can sweeten it with sugar or honey, or drink it as is, which is the traditional way.

You can also add mint leaves, lemon verbena leaves, dried orange peel, dried lemon peel or coffee (not the best idea as yerba has caffeine already) to give an added taste to the mix. All those flavours work very well together, and in particular, if you never had mate before adding a bit of sugar or honey and some mint leaves can help soften the strong flavour.

I love mate, so I have no issue with its flavour, however, I guess a bit like Guinness and Fernet, it is a peculiar taste, which needs a bit getting used to.

Having said that, mate is a great companion for work and study. Instead of pouring coffee after coffee, that will have you walking on the ceiling, you can make yourself a flask of hot water and enjoy mate for an hour or so. That’s the best way to describe it: as a companion. At home we make mate when we have to tackle some nasty chore in the house, or last time: when we had to pack all our stuff to move.

Mate is for sharing. That’s another characteristic of mate: You prepare 1 gourd for 1, 2, 3 or however many people will be having mate with you. You pour water on the mate and drink it all before pouring some more and handing the mate to someone else. You don’t sip and pass, you drink the whole mate and then pour some more and then you pass it.

Benefits of drinking Mate:

1.- Yerba has mateine (a type of caffeine) therefore mate is a stimulant and can be used as we use coffee: to wake us up. However, because of the other components in yerba, apparently it does not affect the body the same way as caffeine does: with mateine there are no highs and lows.

Having said that, do not drink mate after 6pm or you won’t be able to sleep, just as if you’ve had coffee.

2.- Yerba mate has: iron, magnesium, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2 and potassium. All naturally occurring. So unlike tea, coffee, barley drinks and a big etc. Mate actually gives you something in the nutrients department.

3.- Some sites claim it helps you loose weight. If you keep your belly filled with water you’ll be less hungry, that’s a fact; but apart from that, I don’t think it has any miraculous slimming properties.


I still don’t know whether mate drink is alkaline or acidic. Sites don’t seem to agree on this one. I believe it’s probably acidic, less than coffee, probably closer to the pH of tea. Still, green tea is allowed in the alkaline diet in small amounts due to its high content of antioxidants, so I guess mate should be allowed for the same reasons.

Now, you don’t need to buy a mate if you don’t have one. Mates can be different sizes and materials: wood, glass, metal, even plastic. I’ve discovered that La Fermiere yoghurt pots work fantastic as mates. They cost £1.39 each at WholeFoods (and the yoghurt in them is super yummy!) which is a lot cheaper than the cheapest of mates you can get on the Internet.

DSC05508They are great to use as sugar pots as well, or as ramekins. They can be put in the oven and freezer and even in the dishwasher. Seriously, how can these things be so cheap???

Here is my La Fermiere mate with a tasty treat on top:


I haven’t found an alternative for bombillas, but on Amazon they cost about £5 (don’t pay more than £7!) So you can have a mate kit for £6.39 which is not too bad.

Here is how to prepare a mate:

1.- Fill your mate with Yerba roughly mid way.

2.- Then tilt it a bit so that most of the Yerba goes to one side.


3.- Insert the bombilla in the side with less yerba.

DSC054944.- Pour some cold water close to the bombilla. This will prevent you from burning the mate leaves (which will make them taste really bitter) when you pour the hot water; and also from diluting their flavour too quickly.

Now it’s the time to add (if you are going to use) mint leaves, orange peel etc.



5.- Now you can pour your hot water (never hotter than 80 degrees, the water is not meant to be boiling) on the mate, again close to the bombilla.

DSC05498Your mate should look something like this:

DSC05499If it does, it means you got the temperature of the water right  🙂

How long can you keep pouring a mate before replacing the yerba? Well, until you think the flavour is gone (usually after pouring 8 mates or more).

Hope you enjoy your mate!!