Without a doubt, mate is Argentina’s national beverage. This plant, primarily grown in the country’s northeast, has been used for centuries due to its energizing properties.
Heavily consumed in Argentina at all times of the day, mate is also a synonym of community, and sharing a gourd is not uncommon.
Buying and Drinking Mate in Argentina
Mate is omnipresent in Argentina, and it is most commonly sold in 500 gram and 1 kilo packages available in a variety of qualities and intensities. The traditional form simply consists of dried, chopped, ground mate leaves. Some brands add aromas, barks, and other spices.
Drinking mate in Argentina is much more than just enjoying a hot beverage. For the Guaraní people, mate was a fundamental ingredient in religious ceremonies. Nowadays, Argentinians drink it throughout the day, but it also has a social aspect of spending time with people, talking, and gathering with loved ones to share a nice moment.
Needless to say, declining an invitation to have a mate would be frowned upon.
How to Drink Mate in Argentina?
Mate is often served hot and without sugar. The calabash, also known as mate, is the gourd in which this drink is traditionally served. The term is used both for the herb and the recipient.
Mates are usually made of carved porongos (a type of pumpkin), which are treated to soften their inner walls and eliminate residues. They are also made of wood or metal, and many of them are true works of art.
To prepare one, fill one half or three quarters of a gourd with yerba mate. Then, insert the metal straw with a filtering end, with which you will drink the mate. Pour some warm or cold water to moisten the herb and then add hot, but not boiling, water. Drink, and repeat until there is no flavor left. Seeing Argentinians walking around with their gourds and thermos bottles is not rare.
Mate can also be served cold and sweet, in which case is called “mate tereré”.
Bear in mind you must never move the straw. Once it is in the gourd do not use it to stir the drink. Heads up: if you are in a circle sharing a gourd, saying “thank you” is like saying “no, thank you. I do not want to drink anymore”.
What Are the Health Benefits of Mate?
Originally discovered by the Guaraní natives, this beverage has a lot of health benefits, such as its energizing and appetite-suppressing effects. Like coffee, mate is also a laxative and a diuretic, and it can help you prevent migraines or rheumatism. This herb is also a good source of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin B, and its antioxidant effects are well known. Gauchos drink mate to balance their meat-heavy diet, which is low in vitamins and minerals.