Yerba maté means love

Yerba maté gourd ArgentinaA few years ago, I went with a friend to a little restaurant in Manitou called The Maté Factor. I ordered maté which, it turned out, was tea. Very dark and bitter tea.
On my recent trip to Argentina, I discovered that this very same maté is consumed by nearly everyone, every day, throughout the entire day. However, it is never drunk during mealtimes, isn’t sold at restaurants, and is never — or very rarely — offered to tourists.

Instead of a teapot, Argentinian maté is usually made in a decorative gourd with three legs attached to the bottom to prevent tipping. The tea is drunk using a pretty silver straw called a bombilla, which has a strainer inside to filter the loose leaves. When more than one person is present, the maté is passed back and forth and everyone uses the same bombilla.

Watching the maté ritual reminded me of watching people pass a joint at a rock concert. Similarly, there’s paraphernalia associated with the tradition, like a metal thermos of hot water and a small backpack for tea leaves and other necessaries.

I was warned early on that, while unlikely, an invitation to maté should be taken seriously. Being asked to share maté is apparently a precursor to going steady or a first kiss or something. So if you’re interested, by all means sip.

3 thoughts on “Yerba maté means love

  1. Hi Marie,
    I enjoyed this post a lot. Several years ago I worked with a woman from Argentina. She kept all of her mate’ paraphernalia in her desk. Watching her prepare for her afternoon fix was like watching a religious rite. The photo that you posted says it all.

  2. Yo Marie & Crayons,
    You can get this drink at the 3 tribes in Manitou Springs. Very good, then you can relax and watch the witches & such as you sip.

  3. Your article is very nice. There are three ways to drink Yerba Mate that I know. Adults drink “mate” and “tere-ré”(this one is with cold water).

    Children and anyone can drink “mate cocido” (with or without milk) always with sugar or any type of sweetner.

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