Thursday, June 5, 2014


Yerba Mate with Kettle
Photo by dhammza / CC BY

Wood Mate Gourd Collections
Photo by tditz_gb / CC BY

Ceramic Mate Gourd
Photo by photodude_de / CC BY

Metal Mate Gourd Collections
Photo by bdnegin / CC BY

Different Types of Drinking Straw
Photo by Mariano-J / CC BY
Bottom End of a Curved Drinking Straw
Photo by lorelei-ranveig / CC BY

Friends Drinking Yerba Mate Together
Photo by konus / CC BY
Refilling Mate with Hot Water from Thermo
Photo by elisaemrede / CC BY

OTHER NAMES: mate, mate, chimarrão (in Portuguese), cimarrón (in Spanish)

Yerba Mate is a traditional South American infused drink brewed by dried leaves of the plant, Yerba Mate. It is extremely popular particularly in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Southern Brazil, southern Chile, the Bolivian Chaco, Syria and Lebanon. [1] In South America, yerba mate is as common as coffee in the US. 


Yerba Mate has a slight astringent bitter taste due to its high tannin content of the leaves. [2] Many think it is an acquired taste that requires adaptation to the drink. Many South American yerba mate drinkers began this habit when they were young. Some people describe yerba mate as "a combination of lightly smoked wood, weak coffee and flavored hay" and “a mix of green tea and coffee, with hints of tobacco and oak." [3]


Yerba Mate was first consumed as a medicinal plant by the Guaraní people around Pre-Columbian era.
According to the Guaraní legend, it says, "The Goddesses of the Moon and the Cloud came to the Earth one day and found a yaguareté (jaguar) that was going to attack them. An old man saved them, so the goddesses gave the old man a new kind of plant in return, which is yerba mate. It can be made into drink and symbolizes "drink of friendship".

The drink was spread by the Guarani and the Tupí. (who lived in that part of southern Brazil) Through European colonization in the late 16th and 17th century CE, Yerba Mate was widespread throughout South America. Yerba Maté eventually became the national drink in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, and is heavily consumed in Brazil, Peru and Chile. [4

In some provinces of Syria and Lebanon, drinking mate is common due to the residents came back from South America. During the Ottoman Empire period, many moved to South America in the early 20th century, adopted the habit of yerba mate, and maintain the custom after returning home. [5]


The cup/gourd is known as a mate or a guampa. Traditionally, natural gourds are used, though wood vessels, bamboo tubes, and gourd-shaped mates, made of ceramic or metal (stainless steel or even silver) are also common. The gourd is traditionally made out of the porongo or cabaça fruit shell. Gourds are commonly decorated with silver, sporting decorative or heraldic designs with floral motifs.

Mate is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. The straw is called a bombilla. It acts as both a straw and a sieve. The submerged end is flared, with small holes that allow the brewed liquid in, but block the chunky matter that makes up much of the mixture. The straw is traditionally made of silver. Modern ones are typically made of nickel silver (alpaca), stainless steel, or hollow-stemmed cane. 

A thermo filled with hot water is often carried with the drink to refill multiple times. 


Drinking mate is a common social practice in many South American countries. It is traditionally drunk in a particular social setting, such as family gatherings or with friends. [6

When gathering, it is common for everyone to use the same gourd and straw. In some places, passing the first brew of mate to another drinker is considered bad manners. Making a loud sucking noise is not considered rude.

Since yerba mate is such as popular drink, it is common for people to carry a thermo (for refill) along with their gourd of mate. There is also a national law in Uruguay that prohibits drinking mate while driving.


      1.      Yerba mate leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a powdery mixture called yerba.
      2.      Fill the Mate with Yerba about 2/3rds of the way full. 
      3.      Add sweetener like sugar or honey to taste. 
      4.      Insert straw/bombilla and then pour hot water (160-180 degrees F or 70-80C) in a circular motion until the Mate cup is full. 
      5.      Sip through the bombilla.
      6.      Fresh water may be added several times. 
      7.      Lemon, fruit juice, or milk can also be added. 


Yerba Mate contains caffeine, and its level is somewhere between coffee and black tea. Black tea has around 42 mg per 8oz. [7] Mate has around 85 mg per 8oz. [8] Brewed coffee has around 107.5 mg per 8oz. [9] Caffeinated products are not always bad for you, but don’t ever overdose. Check out the health benefits and negatives of caffeine. 

1 comment:

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