Mate as part of the Argentine’s culture
Where is it taken?
“Mate” (pronounced like “matte” in English) is the most popular infusion in Argentina and countries nearby such as Uruguay (who drink mate 24/7!), Paraguay and Brazil (Each with its own style and flavour).
This infusion is prepared by putting some “yerba mate” (the herbs) into a container called “mate”and made of different materials such as wood, silicone, porongo (the fruit of a plant) or others. The infusion is drunk through a sort of drinking straw usually made of alpacca silver or stainless steel called “bombilla”, which will filter the stems and leaves.
This drink is part of the Argentine culture. People have “mate” most of the time, whether they are working, studying, relaxing at home, sunbathing, or hanging out with friends. It is a common social practice as it is said to make people gather, and relate to one another by sharing a “mate”.
Some people like it bitter, some others add a bit of sugar to it, others spice it up with different herbs or fruit to give “mate” a different flavour. In summer many people switch from “mate” to “tereré”, a similar drink said to come from Paraguay and made of “yerba mate” (the herbs) and very cold water with lemon. Nowadays young people just buy the condensed fruit juice powder and add it to the drink.
It is caffeine-rich, and believe it or not, it is also drunk in Syria and in Lebanon. We are not sure of the reason why we share this tradition…! Here in South America it was inherited by the “gauchos” (South American cowboys) who lived in the grasslands.
Ready to try? Watch the video and learn how to prepare a real Argentine mate!
It is important to have rounds of mate, so the person called “cebador” is the one in charge of serving all the mates (Instead of saying “to serve” we say “cebar mate”). You have a round and then you take one more “mate” yourself.
When a “mate” has been used a lot and the herbs seem to be tasteless we say the “mate” is “lavado” (washed) and we need to change the “yerba mate” (herbs).
Now you are well-prepared to share your first “mates” with your Argentine friends!!