Mate is the drink that most people in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay choose for their everyday lives. You may be surprised by the devotion with which mate is drunk in these countries, but there’s a good reason to do so.

In the rest of the world, people can’t start the day without coffee or tea but, in these countries, mate is the safe choice for most people’s mornings and a great tradition!

Mate Article - Person drinking mate

Person drinking mate – Marco Perretta via Unsplash

What is Mate?

Mate is an infusion that is prepared with the leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, an exclusive tree that grows in the subtropical regions of South America.

It has been consumed for many centuries and has established itself throughout history as the preferred drink of millions of people in Argentina (the world’s main producer and exporter), as well as in Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil.

It is made by soaking dried leaves of the yerba mate in hot water and is served with a metal straw in a container typically made from a calabash gourd (the mate properly said). Currently, the container where the mate is prepared is made of several materials such as wood, plastic, silicone, metal, glass, among others. Many times it’s even prepared on the lid of the thermo where the hot water is contained!

Mate article - Mate equipment

Mate’s full equipment – Camila Seves via Unsplash.

The quality of the yerba mate is a determining factor when it comes to enjoying this drink. Only high quality yerba mate will guarantee the ideal flavor, aromas and experience.

Traditionally, yerba mate is shared by two or more people, even using the same mate and metal straw; however, only one person can be in charge of its preparation. This person is called “cebador” or “cebadora” and is in charge of receiving, preparing and passing the mate to the next person.

This special ceremony dates back to the Argentine “gauchos”, keep reading to know more!

Yerba mate was accepted as one of the world’s “most surprising and enjoyable discoveries” by the prestigious CNN Travel magazine.

In this top 50, mate stands above beer, energy drinks, the popular piña colada, and whiskey. But for many people, especially outside of South America, it may be the first time they have heard the term “yerba mate”.

What is the origin of this traditional South American drink?

Although the discovery of yerba mate can be attributed to 3000 years B.C., history recognizes the Guarani population from the Paraná jungle as the pioneers of mate and the creators of the well known particular way of enjoying it.

The Guarani used yerba mate for nutritional and therapeutic purposes, but also as a symbolic and spiritual element. The word “mate” comes from the Guarani “Caa-mate”, where “Caa” means plant or herb, and “mate” refers to the calabash gourd they used to drink it.

With the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, the way Guarani people drunk mate spread to the entire territory of the colony. In this period, the Jesuit missionaries were the pioneers in cultivating and extending the consumption of mate.

Later, the “gauchos” (a kind of Argentine cowboy) settled throughout Argentina and adopted yerba mate as part of their identity. They would sit around the fire, heat some water and pass the mate from hand to hand while chatting and telling stories about their adventures around the countryside.

During the independence of Argentina in the 19th century, the tradition of drinking mate became entrenched in the country’s national culture.

Mate Article - Friends drinking mate

Friends drinking mate – Emiliano Cicero via Unsplash

Is it safe to drink yerba mate every day?

Yes, absolutely! Yerba mate can be the perfect addition to a healthy morning routine. It has many benefits and is unlikely to cause side effects in the average adult or put anyone’s health at risk.

You can start small by taking a few sips until you find the amount and frequency that is right for you. Numerous scientific studies confirm that yerba mate is one of the healthiest and most nutritious drinks in the current market, and is considered by some to be a superfood.

The benefits of drinking Mate

Mate can be adapted to all circumstances: Yerba mate is one of the most resistant plants of the planet and can also be enjoyable in many ways. In the winter season, it can be drunk with hot water to help you stay warm, while  in the summer season it can be prepared in the same way with cold water. It is a good ally to acclimatize the body. You can enjoy a good mate at any place and any time!

It’s cheaper than other drinks: Yerba mate is one of those low cost drinks that positively exceeds the price-quality ratio. It’s a drink similar to coffee, with a production that adapts to all climates and is really easy to consume anywhere. Mate is quick to prepare and, just like coffee or tea, it allows you to stay active and provides you energy.

Helps the immune system: The large amount of antioxidants that this drink has will allow us to keep our best shape. Helping the body to defend itself against external aggressions is the mission of an immune system that must find its allies in food. Mate is one of these allies.

Mate is diuretic: It will help the body eliminate what it doesn’t need. It is a perfect snack and a great infusion to have with your breakfast!

The mate has its own tools to be prepared: Once we have everything we need (hot water, yerba mate, straw and container) we can have it ready in a minute.

Mate Article - Mate

Mate ready – Alexandre Debieve via Unsplash

Drink your mate with some food!

Mate is an amazing partner to your everyday activities, and here are some recipes that fits perfectly with this drink!


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