Posted by: gypsytales | December 19, 2009

Mate is Not For the Faint Hearted

spooning mate into hollowed out calabash

mate cup

Mate (pronounced mutay) is a traditional Argentinean tea.  Made from a type of holly plant, the leaves are dried, chopped and ground into a powdery mixture called yerba, resembling green tea. 

This tea is served in a hollowed out calabash and drunk by sipping through a metal straw with a sieve at one end, thus straining out the bits of leaves. 

sergio preparing his morning cup of mate

 It’s a social drink and common practise is that a single mate drink is shared among friends by passing the calabash around and taking a sip through the straw.  Within days of arriving in Buenos Aires we were offered our first sip of mate.  As I mentioned previously, we had visited BA about 4 years previously and had sampled it back then, even buying a packet to take back home.  I think the crops had indeed become richer since then, taking my first sip felt as if I was swallowing a warm mud pie that had been baking in the South American sun for the last week and a half.

 Most Argentineans, from bus drivers to, petrol attendants, commuters on trains and buses are prepared at any time, with a thermos of hot water and all the little contraptions that go along with making a delicious cup of dusty mate – a ritual we might still be able to learn, given we will be in South America for about 9 months.



  1. Not so Yum …..!

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