What is Mate?

Ancient Traditions…
Known for centuries to the indigenous Guarani people as ‘the drink of the gods’, máte (mah’tchay or mah’tee) is brewed from dried leaves of the yerba mate tree – a small, holly-like shrub that is found in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.


Yerba Máte growing in the wild

Literally translated as ‘herb cup’, yerba mate was used as an energizing morning beverage, a base for herbal tonics, and in ritual drinking circles as a symbol of hospitality, community and friendship. Traditionally served steaming hot in hand-carved gourds (a maté or guampa in Spanish, or cabaça or cuia in Portuguese) and sipped metal straw (bomba in Portuguese, or bombilla in Spanish), yerba máte is thought to be good for both the body and the soul.


A typical South American yerba mate gourd & bombilla

…And New Trends
In Rio, iced máte has evolved into the national beverage. In the 1930’s, mate vendors began toasting the dried mate leaves and selling the brew as a cold beverage in soccer stadiums. Now, Southern Brazil has become the world’s largest producer of yerba máte, and máte bars and beach vendors are as ubiquitous in Rio as Starbucks is in North America.


Iced máte vendor on the beaches of Rio de Janerio

As the demand for mate increases worldwide, wild harvesting and small, organic family-run farms ensure that mate cultivation remains ecologically sound while providing a sustainable source of income.


Ilex paraguariensis

Learn more about Yerba Máte

Wikipedia Article on Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate Association of the Americas
info, history, research, news/magazine articles, etc – everything mate!

Yerba máte’s habitat

Tropical plant database – yerba mate
includes traditional uses, herbal properties, actions, etc

A summary of yerba máte’s health benefits can be found here , and comprehensive white paper on current research into Yerba Máte’s medical properties can be downloaded here (requires filling out a form).