When exactly the Guaranis discovered the virtues of yerba and how they developed the best way to enjoy it remains in the dark prehistoric past. We do know, however, that the Spanish instantly adopted this native Argentine habit and made it into a distinctive and identity mark. From the processing of yerba to the way it is consumed, the custom of drinking mate has remained unaltered from remote times through centuries of history, taking deeper and deeper roots in the habits of the south of South America and even extending too far off places. In Argentina, it is the beverage of highest consumption, second only to tap water, without class or age distinctions.
How to prepare Mate?
It is prepared in a small gourd called "mate" filled with yerba mate. The infusion is made pouring hot water below boiling point into it cebando and it is drunk by sipping through a thin metal tube called "bombilla" which has a filter at its lower end to prevent the broken yerba mate leaves from coming through. This is how it is traditionally prepared in Argentina; more than a simple drink it is a daily ritual.
- The gourd is filled three-quarters of the way with yerba mate
- Then the yerba is moistened to one side of the vessel with cold or lukewarm water
- After it has been allowed to rest, the metal tube is inserted in the same moistened place
- Now it is ready to start pouring the hot water, always below boiling point