|People who drink yerba mate do it as a form of entertainment. Part of the new, more informal way of life in Uruguay includes having people drinking Mate while on walks, sporting events, at work, and it is extremely popular among many student activities.
In general, yerba mate is enjoyed in the morning or afternoon between meals. The "matero" carries his gourd (Mate) containing the yerba and the bombilla in one hand, while carrying a thermos of luke-warm water under his arm.
Mate drinking is a ritual which is often shared with friends and family. The matero prepares and tries the Mate. He then passes the prepared Mate for someone to enjoy. Some people prefer to prepare and drink from their own Mate, especially if they add other medicinal herbs to their infusion.
A mate gourd and bombilla is a gift which is greatly appreciated by South American professionals. Some are intricately decorated by hand with silver or gold.
Yerba Mate comes from a tree, "Ilex Paraguariensis", cultivated in South America. The yerba is the leaves; dried and crushed to make a tea-like herb. The Uruguayan FDA designates and enforces labeling standards for yerba mate. A premium yerba as one that contains no "palo", or the stem of the tree, which lessens the quality of the blend. Nativa is pure 100% yerba mate leaves, harvested from wild, mature forests and aged for a minimum of one year. Visit the Southern Brazilian yerba mate forests.
The Mate Gourd
To drink Mate the traditional way, you will need a Mate Gourd and Bombilla filter straw. Each culture has its deep-rooted preference as to taste, temperature, and size of the Mate gourd used. You may add sugar or honey to sweeten the Yerba as the Argentineans do, or drink it pure as is the custom in Uruguay. It's a wonderful and healthy alternative to coffee, and a good way to stimulate conversation.
To drink mate the traditional way you will need a Bombilla. These filter the leaves out of your mate drink. Bombillas can be made of bronze, nickel, alpaca silver, stainless steel, silver-plated and gold-plated. Those made with more durable metals can last many decades of daily use. The bronze and nickel-plated bombillas should be replaced once the plating starts to come off.
Adding Other Medicinal Herbs
For many Uruguayans, Yerba Mate is the daily drink to which they add other medicinal herbs which they are taking for health reasons. Traditionally, people add it to the water in the thermos. For modern drinkers, we recommend simply adding them to the dry yerba mate batch. This is a particularily helpful way to ingest bitter or strong medicinals, as the yerba mate typically overpowers them. Be sure to check with your physician before adding any herbs to your daily diet.
The traditional Gaucho (Cowboy) drinks Mate daily.
The "Matera" prepares a Mate for her friend
Traditional Matera case for your gourd, bombilla and thermos.
Mate is very popular on the sidelines.
Yerba Mate is for all ages.
Typical family scene with Yerba Mate at the beach.
Other medicinal herbs are used widely with Yerba Mate.