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Buying Guide

Buying Guide

How To Buy Yerba Mate: Buying Guide

Before you buy yerba mate, you can read this buying guide and you will feel like a confident expert. Or, you may want to learn more about just what is yerba mate and explore how To drink yerba mate to maximize yerba mate's benefits

Suggested Tools: A Yerba Mate Gourd & Bombilla

Some refer to the yerba mate gourd as a 'mate cup', and the yerba mate bombilla as a 'mate straw'.  When you drink yerba mate with the gourd and bombilla, the special shape of the gourd compresses the yerba mate tea around the bombilla, allowing maximum nutrient extraction. The gourd and bombilla straw are fundamental, time-proven tools, which have benefited yerba mate drinking cultures for centuries.  

You can select a Yerba Mate Set that comes with the gourd and bombilla, use a mate cup with a built in gourd and straw like the YerbaCup®, or chose your own gourd and cup. By learning a little about your options, you can choose a mate straw and mate gourd that matches your lifestyle needs. 

How To Choose A Yerba Mate Gourd

The mate cups unique shape compresses the yerba mate tea in order to create suction for nutrient extraction, and preserves the high level of nutrients. 

More exciting, artisans create each unique mate cup from wood or a special squash. These ancient tools continue to serve as the perfect vessels for yerba mate. Indeed, they are married, as 'yerba' is the herb and 'mate' is the gourd. Using this specially shaped mate gourd is the secret to maximizing the benefits of yerba mate.

Wood Mate Gourd

Here is a short video explaining the benefits of wood mate gourd:

  • Great for both beginners and seasoned drinkers
  • Easier to keep clean than a natural gourd
  • Add a pleasant flavor to the yerba mate from their first use, whereas non-wood gourds require more time to develop their superior flavor enhancing properties
  • Flat base adds stability

Natural Mate Gourd

Here is a short video explaining the benefits of the natural squash mate gourd:


  • Best for seasoned mate drinkers
  • Better than any wood gourds at subduing the natural bitterness of yerba mate
  • Create a more unique and pleasant flavor than wood gourds over time by forming a better “memory” of what the drinker likes. 
  • Available in special shapes to maximize the benefits of drinking yerba mate Terere Style (Juice or cold water)
  • Available in larger sizes for sharing with more people
  • Need to be cured before use

Glass Mate Gourd

  • Great for both beginners and seasoned drinkers
  • Easiest gourd to keep clean
  • Does not subdue the bitteness of the herb, but allows for it's full flavor to come through. 
  • Tend to be extremely stable due to weight, flat basses, and/or stands. Won't tip on you.
  • Glass gourds often allow you to see through to the yerba mate herb. They just look cool.  
  • Glass gourds are all the rage and have been growing in popularity in the last 5 years. 

YerbaCup®(easiest way to prepare and drink yerba mate)

  • Easiest way to enjoy the traditional method
  • All-in-one gourd, bombilla, and water chamber
  • Convenient for travel or work

Choosing a Mate Straw

A mate straw, also called a bombilla, is more than just a "straw;" it acts as a pressurized extraction filter. 

Artisans create each bombilla with different characteristics.  It is easier to select a bombilla when you understand the role of shape, length, tips, filters, and materials.

Mate Filter

There are two types of mate filters to choose from, spoon filter or tube filter.

  • Spoon End Mate Filter
    • Extracts the most nutrients
    • Easiest to scoop the yerba mate out of the gourd when done
  • Tube End Mate Filter
    • Easier to use with leaf-style blend ("sin palos" or "despalada") varieties
    • Do not clog as easily
    • Can be removed from a full gourd and easily reinserted without clogging
    • Work well even if the gourd of Yerba Mate is prepared poorly

Mate Straw Materials

Yerba Mate straws are available in stainless steel, alpaca, and bamboo.

  • Stainless Steel Bombilla: Strong, durable, no need to polish
  • Alpaca Bombilla: Strong, durable, traditionally used metal, impressive shine with quick and easy dry rag, more detailed metalwork available from artisans.
  • Bamboo Bombilla: Strong, ancient tool. Not as durable as metal mate straws, and are a bit more likely to clog. Still, they work great and look awesome.

Mate Straw Shape

Each type of mate straw is available in two shapes, straight or curved. 

  • Straight mate straws are considered the most traditional and best way to honor the yerba mate; drink while looking down into the herb (a.k.a. meditative)
  • Straight mate straws are suggested for those choosing a large mate gourd, as curved straws often do not fit into the largest of mate gourds.
  • Curved mate straws are considered the most helpful with staying engaged; drink while looking forward (a.k.a. mindful)
  • Curved mate straws are not suggested for use in the largest of mate gourds, as they do not fit very well.

Mate Straw Length

  • Long mate straws works best to keep the bombilla from becoming too hot on the lips
  • Long mate straws are a necessity when using the larger mate gourds.
  • Short mate straws works best with smaller mate gourds, providing better balance from its lower center of gravity
  • Short mate straws are not suggested for use in larger gourds, as they don't protrude enough from the top.

Mate Straw Gold Top

  • Gold Tip: Function, not glamour! Gold protects the lips from the heat of the bombilla, as gold does not transmit heat very well. 

YerbaCup® (built in gourd and bombilla):

  • Easiest way to enjoy yerba mate
  • All-in-one gourd, bombilla, and water chamber
  • Convenient for travel or work

Choosing a Yerba Mate Tea

Yerba mate tea is a blend of yerba mate stems and leaves that are used in the mate gourd. The traditional "best" yerba mate blend contains approximately 12% yerba mate stems and 88% yerba mate leaf.  The stems help keep the bombilla from clogging and reduce the bitterness of the yerba mate. There are three common blends that one can buy: Traditional, Suave, and Leaf-Style. Of course, one can buy all types of yerba mate additives with these blends. 

Traditional Yerba Mate

  • 12% yerba mate stems
  • Also called 'con palo'
  • Stems reduce bitterness
  • Easy to prepare and use, as the stems protect the bombilla from clogging.
  • Is available in many different flavors like orange, lemon, and grapefruit. 

Suave Mate

  • 20% yerba mate stems
  • Also called 'smooth'
  • Is easiest to prepare and use, as the large stem content protect the bombilla from clogging.
  • Large stem content further reduces bitterness
  • Is available in many different flavors like other blends.
  • Best for YerbaCup

Leaf-Style Yerba Mate

  • Less than 1% stems
  • Also called 'sin palos', 'despalada', and 'despalillada'
  • Leaves contain the most nutrients.
  • Stronger flavor
  • Produces more compression around the bombilla, allowing for better nutrient extraction.
This brief video shows a close up of traditional mate (Taragui  & Rosamont), suave mate (Nobleza Gaucha Suave), and leaf-style yerba mate (Canarias).

*Note: The strong, bitter flavor of yerba mate comes from the nutrients found in the leaves, making leaf-style blends the strongest tasting blends.  Although stems do not provide many nutritional benefits, blends containing stems do not significantly lessen the nutritional content. The difference in nutritional content between leaf-style and stem blends is so small it is considered insignificant.


Other Ways to Drink Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate Tea Bags

  • Also called 'saquitas'
  • Small, 3 gram yerba mate bags are available for steeping in water. 
  • The experience of soaking 3 grams of Yerba Mate can not be compared to the Traditional Method's experience of extracting the nutrients from over 40 grams of compressed yerba mate. 
  • Sometimes we sacrifice the "best" nutrient extraction method of the gourd and straw with a quick indulgance of a yerba mate tea bag. 
  • Tea bags also serve as a great addition to refreshing iced tea blends

Coffee Maker

  • The coffee maker is not able to extract as many nutrients as the Traditional Yerba Mate Method because it drips the water and does not use suction.  
  • It also does not preserve the high level of nutrients as well as the Traditional Method.  
  • Still, yerba mate has so many nutrients that the coffee maker can produce a nutrient rich drink.  
  • Please be careful to use a filter that will not clog and make a mess of your machine. Some paper filters are wound so tight that the machine can overflow. Setting your machine for 'dark' coffee will often allow it to drip slower and keep the machine from overflowing.

Buy yerba mate today and start enjoying more antioxidants and nutrients than are available in any other natural drink!



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