How to Prepare a Mate: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Prepare a Mate: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Prepare a Mate: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

Mate (pronounced má-te) is a drink made by immersing dried mate herb leaves in hot water. It was the Guarani tribe, from South America, who discovered the rejuvenating qualities of yerba mate, and today it is a drink consumed in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, certain regions of Brazil, Chile, eastern Bolivia, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. It tastes similar to green tea, with hints of tobacco and oak. To enjoy the mate well, however, you need to prepare it properly. We describe below how to prepare it correctly.


  • Mate herb;
  • Cold water;
  • Hot water, but not boiling.


Method 1 of 2: Traditional

Make Yerba Mate Step 1

Step 1. Get a gourd and a bombilla

Mate is traditionally heated and served in a deep, round gourd (which is also called mate) and drunk through a metal straw known as a bombilla. There are several matte cups made of metal, ceramic or wood. You can use a regular cup of tea without any problems, but the bombilla is mandatory.

The gourd used for the first time must be cured, or the first sips will be a little bitter. Curing removes the soft inner tissues of the gourd and “spices” the inside of the gourd with the taste of matte. Add hot water until reaching the metal ring (or to the top, in the absence of a metal ring) of the gourd. Let the hot liquid sit for 10 minutes. Then, under running water, gently scrape the gourd membrane with the help of a metal spoon (but do not remove the stem from the center). Finally, expose the clean gourd to sunlight for a day or two until it is completely dry

Step 2. Fill the gourd halfway with the dried mate

Step 3. Place your hand on top of the half-full gourd and turn it upside down

Place the most crushed leaves on top of the gourd shaking it with quick movements of your fist. This helps ensure that these tiny elements don't get sucked into the bombilla later.

Step 4. Set the gourd almost completely aside and shake it back and forth

This action will bring the larger leaves to the surface, which will help to filter out the ground particles. Slowly and carefully tilt the gourd to the right side so that the yerba mate remains concentrated on one side.

Step 5. Insert the bomb into the gourd

Whether you add cold water before or after inserting the bomb is a matter of tradition or personal preference. Regardless, cold water will help preserve the mate's integrity.

  • Place the bombilla in the empty space next to the pile of herbs, being careful not to disturb the internal organization of the gourd. Bring the end of the bombilla to the bottom, touching one of the inner walls of the gourd and keeping the straw away from the pile of herbs. Then add cold water to the empty space, bringing it near the top of the pile. Wait for it to be absorbed. Try to keep smaller particles in the pile dry.
  • Alternatively, pour cold water into the empty space until it reaches the top of the pile. Wait for the herb to absorb the water. Gather or gently tap the base of the pile; this meeting helps the mate retain its shape. Bring the end of the bombilla to the bottom and against the wall of the gourd. Keep the bomb away from the herb pile.

Step 6. Pour hot water into the empty space, just like you did with cold water

It is important that you use hot water (70-80°C, 160-180°F), not boiling. The boiling water will sour your mate.

Step 7. Drink from the bombilla

Beginners tend to remove the bombilla and stir the herb. Resist this temptation, or you will end up clogging the bomb and allowing the herb to enter the straw. Drink all the mate that is delivered to you, avoiding giving it back after small sips. You should hear a noise similar to drinking soda with your straw.

  • In a group, the first round is traditionally taken by the person who prepares the mate. If you are serving, drink all the mate liquid. After that, refill the gourd with hot water and pass it to the next person, sharing the same bombilla.
  • Keep refilling the gourd as it passes from hand to hand (one preparation per person) until the herb loses its flavor (in Spanish, it is said that the tea has been washed); this should happen after ten reps or so (depending on the quality of the mate). The mound can be pushed to the opposite side of the gourd so that the liquid is replenished and the flavor comes back a few more times.
  • To signal that you don't want more mate, thank “el cebador” (the server). Remember to thank him after the last mate. He will understand that you are satisfied after the thanks.

Step 8. Clean the gourd (or any other used container) after you finish and let it dry

Containers made from organic materials can rot, and matte can follow their taste.

Method 2 of 2: Alternatives

Step 1. The following cooking options are convenient, but can produce a glaringly different flavor from the traditional one

It is recommended that you try the traditional preparation before trying one of the methods below.

  • In Paraguay, Yerba Mate is enjoyed at a cold temperature, replacing hot water with water and ice. In some cases, other herbs are mixed with the mate. Instead of the gourd, the Paraguayans use a cow's horn to deposit the yerba mate. This form of preparation is known as “Tererê”.
  • In some places, such as Argentina, mate is also sold in the form of tea bags (called cooked mate). It can be brewed like other teas (but still without boiling water).

Step 2. You can treat yerba mate like any other tea leaf; soak it in hot water (The amount depends on how strong you want the tea to be

You will need to experiment) and filter the leaves before drinking.

  • It is possible to prepare the mate with a French press.
  • You can also make your mate with a standard automatic coffee maker. Just place the mate where you would put the coffee powder.

Step 3. If you don't like the taste of Yerba Mate, you can change the herb for grated coconut and the water for milk

Good for children and lovers in cold winters.


  • You can also add fresh mint leaves, or other aromatic plants, directly to the water.
  • For a sweeter drink, you can add a little sugar or honey to the gourd before pouring the hot water.
  • In some parts of South America, the peel of citrus fruits (especially oranges) is added to grass or, alternatively, is prepared with milk that is almost scalding hot.
  • In summer, try making the “tererê” by replacing hot water with ice water or lemonade. For tererê, it is preferable to use metallic cups, not gourds.
  • You can add chamomile (Egyptian has a strong flavor), Mint leaves and Star Anise in Yerba Mate.
  • Mate contains caffeine; although generally this amount is less than that found in tea and coffee.


  • Remember that you are drinking a hot liquid through a metal straw. Soon, the straw will be hot! Take a small sip at first.
  • Studies suggest that people who drink large amounts of mate daily and regularly are at risk of developing cancer.
  • Please note that the research being conducted is not comprehensive and cannot offer any firm claims about cancer. There is opposing research based on tests that link colon cancer clearance to mate. The yerba mate cancer research has not looked at the toxicity of 'alpaca', or 'German silver', also known as nickel silver. The toxicity of such food is known to generate several serious health problems, including cancer. Future research may show that the designs of the gourd and the 'bombs' made from this mineral complex are the causes of cancers associated with the herb.

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