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Yerba Mate: The Where, What, Who, and How

Yerba Mate, or Mate (rhymes with latte), is an herbal drink made from a plant grown in South America. Traditionally the beverage is consumed in a gourd, also referred to as a Mate.

The Where

Mate is a traditional drink consumed in several South American countries. Yerba Mate comes from the plant Ilex paraguariensis grown in parts of South America, like Paraguay, Uraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

The What

The branches of the Ilex paraguariensis plant are harvested and often dried by way of a wood fire. The leaves (and some small twigs) are used to make a beverage called mate. The flavor of mate is described as vegetal, grassy, and herb-like. It has even been described as reminiscent of some green tea varieties. Mate contains mateine (think caffeine), which makes it a great alternative to coffee.

The Who

First consumed by the indigenous Guaraní and Tupí people who lived in southern Brazil, the popularity of the mate beverage began to spread during European colonization. Today, the beverage is growing in popularity around the world.

And our personal favorite ... The How

The consumption of mate is often a social event, and drinking mate from the traditional gourd (also called a mate) is a sign of friendship. Participants sit in a circle while conversing and sip the mate from a natural gourd using a straw called a bombilla. Once one takes a sip, they pass the gourd to the person to their right. It's a tradition meant to be shared with friends and family.

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