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Traditions, Rituals, & Love

Traditions, Rituals, & Love

Each year millions of people consume over 8 million pounds of yerba mate tea using the gourd and bombilla.  For most Uruguayans and Argentinians it is a part of their daily lives, permeating throughout their work, family, friendships, and love.  It is described by many as something that awakens your soul. As they often say, "Mate es vida!" Mate is life!


People drink and carry it most anywhere and usually enjoy it 3 times per day, then again whenever meeting with friends.  

  •  Sit in a circle with loved ones and talk!

Yerba Mate is the perfect herb to share with loved ones. It stimulates the mind yet relaxes the body, uplifting the mood and spirit of the moment with a joyous energy. Folks traditionally prefer to share it under a tree together, but it can be enjoyed anywhere at anytime! 

Sharing Rituals 

Centuries of yerba mate tea sharing have led to some refined rituals that are designed to create a smooth, fluid process. These rituals are common to small and large groups alike.

  • One person prepares the drink and takes the first serving before sharing

The server is referred to as the "Cebador," which translates literally into The Yerba Mate Gourd & Bombilla Server. Whew! That does not translate smoothly because the entire concept does not even have a word in English. Fortunately, being the Cebador is easy and rewarding.

Once prepared, the Cebador takes the first sip to ensure that the bombilla is working smoothly. The cebador also reaps the benefit of that first sip's nutrient and energy packed punch. The Cebador will use this energy to pay attention and make sure everyone is getting some yerba mate.

  •  When passing, the bombilla is pointed toward the closest person

This subtle ritual provides enormous clarity and ease. It allows people to focus on the conversation and not have worry about when to reach out for the gourd.  It also avoids confusion when the drinker gestures with gourd in hand while having a discussion. 

  • The bombilla is left undisturbed

The bombilla is delicately sealed in a suction chamber that is best left undisturbed. Moving the bombilla can break the seal and cause clogging.

  • Recipient  drinks entire serving, ending with a sucking sound

If this is your first opportunity to drink, then drink the entire serving and enjoy! It is considered polite to pull some of the deeper nutrients out with a little sucking sound at the end. This gives a subtle signal to the Cebador that you have finished. Be careful not to suck with too much force though, as it is considered a bit rude to take too many of the nutrients from your friends. J

  • Gourd is returned to the person who gave it to you, without saying thank you!

Send it back toward the Cebador by giving it back to the person who gave it to you. You only say thank you when both yourself and the person next to you has said thank you. This ritual allows people to focus on the conversation, and not have the passing of the gourd cause much interruption. This also allows each person to take care of the person next to them, so that the Cebador does not have to interrupt to ask if anyone wants more.

  • Pass it to the next person after you've had a turn

If you have already had your opportunity to drink a serving, then pass it to the next person. You will always take care of the person next to you.

  • When the person on each side of the Cebador says “thank you” to the Cebador, then the Cebador stops serving. 

You and your loved ones have been uplifted from an ancient and communal tea ritual that is performed millions of times each year across the globe!


People really do fall in love with their yerba mate gourd. Not only does each gourd uniquely contribute its own flavor personality to the yerba mate tea, in Latin America the gourd is viewed as actually having a soul. People respect and honor their gourd as its soul contributes all its collected good memories to each serving.

Beyond peoples' love for gourds, the entire prepared drink is historically used as a tool for negotiating loving relationships. Even today, the way it is prepared is often used to subtly communicate interest, or lack of interest in a person. Maybe some of these preparations will spark your interest?

Yerba Mate Preparation/Additives Meaning:

Burnt sugar yerba mate: Sympathy or I’m thinking of you.

Orange Peel yerba mate: I want you back.

Cinnamon yerba mate: You're interesting.

Coffee yerba mate: I was angry but I forgive you.

Milk yerba mate: I respect you.

Molasses yerba mate: Consoling.

Honey yerba mate: Let’s stay together forever!

Sparkling water yerba mate: I love you too. 

We love yerba mate too!

Come check out our favorite recipes and share your own on our Yerba Mate Facebook Community! Share the love!!


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