Tomando Yerba Mate (Drinking Yerba Mate)

posted by Eva

What is Mate?:

Mate is a very popular drink here in Argentina. It tastes like tea but it’s not exactly tea. It is a joke that all Argentineans walk around with a cup of mate in one hand and a thermos of hot water in the other.  This seems pretty accurate to me.  Mate is a social drink. You say to your friends, “Do you want to come over and drink some mate?” Mate can be drank anywhere like in the park or at work.

How to Serve Mate:

Barbara, our Spanish school director, serving the mate

There is a very particular way to serve mate. First, the person who brought the mate prepares the mate. Then, the maker drinks the first cup. He or she refills the cup with water and gives the cup to another person. He/she gives it back to the maker to be refilled with water.  Everyone takes turns drinking the mate.  You and your friends all use the same straw. It is considered rude to wipe the straw after the previous drinker.  The maker knows when you have finished the cup because the straw makes a gurgling sound when you get to the bottom. If you want another round of mate, DO NOT say “gracias” to the maker. If you say gracias, it means that you are done drinking mate. Also, it is rude to say “gracias” after only one round of mate.  You should wait at least until the second.

How to Make Mate:

Step 1:  Get a Mate cup and some Yerba Mate.

Step 2:  Put a little bit of Yerba Mate in the cup.

Step 3:  Shake the cup upside down to get the “dust” out of the cup. (Muy importante!)

Step 4:  Put the Yerba Mate to one side of the cup.

Step 5: If you want sugar, put it in the empty side of the cup.

Step 6:  Add hot water to the side with sugar.

Step 7:  To put the bombilla (pronounced bombisha) in, scoop it under the Yerba Mate.

Tips for Making Mate:

If you don’t shake the dust out, a lot of stuff will come up your straw. Make sure you scoop the straw under the Yerba Mate.

This is a typical Mate cup. It is made out of a gourd.

Mate is actually the name of the cup, which is made from a gourd.

Notice the bombilla (straw). You can get a curved straw or a straight one.

You can buy the yerba mate (tea) at any supermercado. In fact, any grocery store here, will have a whole row devoted to mate!

Mistakes to Avoid:

When we tried to make mate ourselves, we put the straw in before the water and got a lot of yerba up our straw.  When we sucked up the yerba, we had to spit out the yerba chunks.

(This would be rude if you weren’t just with your family.)

Also, the water was way too hot, and we burned our tongues.

Another mistake that we made was that we put too much sugar in the cup.  Yerba tastes very bitter, but too much sugar doesn’t make it better.



David deciding if he likes the mate.

Categories: Argentina | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Tomando Yerba Mate (Drinking Yerba Mate)

  1. nison and doreen

    Eva, my dear granddaughter-
    When U return to Detroit and our Friday night Shabbos dinners, how about making MATE for us.
    Love your descriptions and pix.
    Grandpa and Monga (N&D)

  2. Ann Ellenbogen

    We too had mate when we went to Argentina. Your description is absolutely accurate and brought back the experience for us. The faces (some of) you are making describes how lots of us felt when we shared the mate! NOT muy delicioso.

  3. Claire de Boer

    Great description and photos of mate, Eva! Len and I loved meeting you and your family at the estancia on Saturday. Please ask your mom to email me, as the fun “business card” she made us was lost in our subsequent travels. Best wishes to all the Goldmans, Claire y Len

  4. Martin

    When in Norway, you can order online here

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