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Yerba Mate Culture and Video

6-min video filmed in Uruguay

Yerba Mate Video

Hot Water vendor
Hot water for your thermos is available on the street.
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 leaf

The Yerba Mate Leaves

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.

yerba mate gourd

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.


yerba mate bombilla

The Bombilla

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.

Traditional Gaucho (cowboy) and granddaughter.
The traditional Gaucho (Cowboy) drinks Mate daily.

Yerba mate on the beach
The "Matera" prepares a Mate for her friend

yerba mate gourd
Traditional Matera case for your gourd, bombilla and thermos.

Enjoying at the Baby Futbol game
Mate is very popular on the sidelines.

Traditional yerba mate gourd and bombilla
Yerba Mate is for all ages.

Family at the beach.
Typical family scene with Yerba Mate at the beach.

Botanist Expert Marion Aguilera
Other medicinal herbs are used widely with Yerba Mate.

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