- MATÉ is also called YERBA MATÉ, PARAGUAY TEA,
BRAZILIAN TEA. It is a tealike beverage, popular in Argentina, Uruguay,
Paraguay and southern Brazil.
- Other names: chá-dos-jesuitas (Jesuit tea),
(Mission tea), congonha, congonha-das-missões,
(Saint Barthelemy herb), orelha-de-burro (donkey's ear),
(Paraná tea), etc.
- It is brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets of the
tree Ilex paraguariensis.
- The name "mate" derives from the quichua word "matí"
names the gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris) that is used to drink the
- It is a stimulating drink, greenish in colour, containing
and tannin, and is less astringent than tea.
Mate, the plant
- Holly family (Aquifoliaceae), related to holly
- Grows between the parallels 10° and 30° (South) in
Paraná and Paraguay rivers basins at altitudes varying from 500
- Tropical or subtropical plant, needing mild climate, with
dry season, and 15º to 17-21ºC average temperatures and up to
1500 mm of annual rain.
- In the wild, the plant needs about 25 years to develop
reaching in that case a height of up to 15 meters (more often 7 m).
- The leaves are alternated, elliptical or oval, with the
- It flowers between the months of October and December.
- The flowers are small, polygamous, dioecious, with calyx
corolla in a tetrameric disposition.The fruit resembles a pepper
several varieties, there are three that are the most important:
"longifolia" and "latifolia".
Mate, its consumption
- Mate has a characteristic mature flavor which is somewhat
sour, withered leaf-like, similar to that obtained from tea (Camellia
Of the 196 volatile chemical compounds found in yerba mate, 144 are
found in tea. The infusions of Ilex paraguarensis are less
than those made of tea.
- It is used in popular medicine and employed in commercial
preparations as a stimulant to the central nervous system, a diuretic,
- Caffeine: 1-1.5 % ; Tannins: 7-11 %
- On average, 300,000 tons of mate are produced each year.
- To prepare the mate infusion (called "mate" itself):
- the dried minced leaves of the yerba mate are placed
a gourd called "mate" too. This is usually the hard shell from a local
but it can also be any suitable metal, glass or wood recipient,
purists will object to the latter types!
- hot water (approx. 70 C) is added (this is called "cebar
- the infusion is sucked through a metal pipe called
which has a strainer at its lower end to prevent the minced leaves from
reaching the mouth.
How to prepare a good mate
Fill in the gourd up to 3/4 of its volume with "Yerba Mate".
Close the top of the gourd with your hand and rotate it to an
position. Or: Put your hand or a piece of paper on the mate's "mouth"
shake it gently upside-down. This is to force the smallest yerba
(that are like a dust) to the top of the mate, in this way it is less
that the bombilla tiny holes will get blocked by them.
Rise it up slowly adding warm water (140ºF) enough to fix the
in an inclined position. Let it rest for about 3 minutes.
Close the top of the straw with your thumb and put it inside the gourd
the flat part in its bottom supporting the straw against the border of
gourd (not over the yerba).
- Now you are ready to start drinking your "chimarrão"
or "mate" (Spanish speaking countries). Add hot water (178ºF) in
empty space near the straw up to the top of the gourd (do not cover
- Take it till the water has finished then fill it again and
on. Do not move the straw anymore and use the same yerba until you note
it has lost its taste.
Some guaraní words related to mate
- Barbacuá: from mbarambacuá = ma (pile) + ra
+ mbacuá (toasted or roasted thing)
- Caä: yerba mate ; Caá-guará: mate
; Caá-i-guá: mate gourd (literally: container of the
of yerba mate) ; Caá-u-ei: thirst of mate
- Mboroviré: yerba mate slightly "canchada"
- Sapeca, sambeca or sapeá: pocá, peá or
(to open) + za or sá (eye) = to open the globules or vesicles of
the yerba mate by the heating process
- Ticuá cá ay: "cebar el mate" (literally: to
water in the hole)