Travel Destinations

Published on February 21st, 2020 | by admin


Off to Argentina? Time for you to try the yerba mate!

As soon as your flight lands in Buenos Aires, if not before while on the plane, you’ll start noticing people drinking from strange metallic containers, through the use of a metallic looking straw. You will notice them everywhere, shared by groups in a park, a couple sitting on a bench or even people at work. What you are seeing these people drink is called mate and, yes, it is as popular, if not more, than coffee in America.

What’s inside these strange containers?

If you go to the market in Recoleta or in San Telmo, you will see stalls after stalls of these containers. They come in different shapes and sizes and they are not all in metal as, sometimes, they can also be made out of wood. Some are engraved and some have a marking on their covers, often in leather, to identify the owners cup or a brand. But the one thing you can be sure of, is what is inside the mug: yerba mate tea.

Yerba mate translates directly to “mate herb”. The word is originally from the Quechua which has multiple meanings. Mati, in this case, means “container for a drink”. Yerba mate is used to make a beverage known as mate. It is usually served hot, but can also be served cold.

Where it comes from and where it can be found today

It is particularly popular in central and southern regions of South America, primarily in Argentina, as well as in Paraguay, Uruguay, southern and central-western Brazil, the Chaco region of Bolivia and southern Chile. Farther away, Syria and Lebanon are two countries that import it from Argentina.

The origin of the Yerba mate can be traced back to the indigenous people and was also found in some communities in southern Brazil, prior to European colonization. Today, Yerba mate is so popular that it can be found in various energy drinks on the market, as well as bottled or canned iced tea.

Mate: a ritual in Argentina

Argentinians don’t go a day without drinking it. This caffeine-rich infused drink is a tea made from dried leaves mixed with hot water. Yerba mate leaves are dried, chopped and ground into a powder before being drunk through a metal straw (traditionally silver) known in Argentina as a Bombilla. That name, however, can vary depending of the country you are in.

The bombilla also acts as a sort of sieve too, which strains the leaves from the liquid. You will also notice that a lot of people carry thermos around, as it keeps the mate warm, so they can refill their cup throughout the day.

Although mate is an acquired taste, if you sty long enough, you are bound to become addicted too!

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