Yerba Mate...
Drink of the Gods

Drinking mate at sunset. Argentina
Drinking Mate at Sunset - © Daniel Stonek /

Yerba mate (hierba mate, mate tea) is very popular in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil, where is also known as...

To drink mate is certainly a national ritual in Argentine culture, but in Uruguay they have 24/7 passion for it.
Uruguay culture wouldn't survive without it.

The name mate comes from Quechua language "mati", that names the gourd use to drink the infusion.
"Yerba" is a corruption of the Spanish "hierba", which means herb.
It's either cultivated or exploited from native forests.

The first ones to cultivate it were Jesuit missionaries, who, around 1670, already have plantations.
To learn more about Jesuit missions in South America, please visit Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis.

It's brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets of the perennial tree Ilex Paraguariensis.
The process to prepare and drink it it's very simple.
Dried leaves (yerba, erba, mate tea) are steeped into the gourd (mate) and hot water is added, the resulting mate tea is sucked through a metal straw - bombilla.

The best way to brew it is similar to brewing a loose tea. If you add real hot water it will "burn the yerba" (quemar la yerba).

The traditional way of drinking it it's called "mate amargo" - without adding any sugar or sweetener to the actual herb.
When adding any of the above mentioned, it's called "mate dulce".

It's also very common to add aromatic herbs or milk.
Yerba mate can also be consumed as "mate cocido" - prepared with tea cups like any tea.
When prepared using cold water is called "terere", very rooted in Paraguay culture.

 Mate. Yerba mate, Argentina
Mate - © Daniel Stonek /

Ilex Paraguariensis grows in the sub-tropical region of southwestern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, northeastern Argentina (Corrientes and Misiones provinces) and in some areas of Uruguay.

Argentina is the world leading producer and consumer of yerba mate. According to a survey by IBOPE Argentina, it boasts a 92% household consumption rate.

It contains practically all the vitamins necessary to sustain life, including A,E,B-complex and C, as well as significant amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc.

Scientists describe yerba mate's caffeine content as "mateine".

When you buy a mate gourd, don't forget to cure it first...

Gaucho drinking yerba mate. Argentina
Gaucho Drinking mate - © Daniel Stonek /

Tips to drink Yerba Mate like a pro:

Et voila! are set for your first yerba mate experience in South America...

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