How to Prepare and Drink Mate as the Argentines

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Monday October 13, 2014 - Posted by to Argentina Culture
13Oct
Hoe drink je en maak je Mate klaar zoals de Argentijnen

Mate is a very popular drink in Argentina and you will see people drinking mate as soon as you arrive to Buenos Aires for your Spanish classes. Even if you don’t live with a host family but elsewhere (at one of our students residences in Buenos Aires, or in a hostel), you will see local people drinking mate. Where? Everywhere! 

Argentine people LOVE and ADORE mate and will drink it everywhere: at work, at home, on the streets in Buenos Aires, in the parks, alone, or with friends or relatives.

So it’s time for you now, as a Spanish student in Buenos Aires, to learn more about this incredible important tradition for the local people. You will learn how to prepare and how to drink Mate as the Argentines.

How to Prepare and Drink Mate as the Argentines

What you need to know

To start with, the yerba mate is a sort of strong green/herbal tea, with a rather bitter taste. In this blog I will explain you what you need in order to prepare your own Argentine mate, how you should prepare it and what kind of rules you should follow drinking it. Rules? Yes, there are rules. It’s not about drinking only, it’s a true Argentine ritual.

What do you need to prepare mate?

  • Hot Water and/or a kettle
  • Yerba mate (the herb)
  • A cup (el porongo or also called: el mate)
  • A bulb (la bombilla)
  • Sugar

How do you prepare a mate?

First you need to warm up water in a kettle, but don’t heat it up until it boils. The water should be around 80 or 90 degrees. While the water is heating up, you can start to prepare the mate.

How to Prepare and Drink Mate as the Argentines


Fill the cup of the mate with 2/3 of yerba, remove the powder by putting your hand on top the cup and shake it around 3 times. The powder will stick to your hand. Afterwards you can add a teaspoon of sugar because the first drinks will be very bitter.

How to Prepare and Drink Mate as the Argentines


If the water is really hot, it is recommendable to first put cold water to not burn the yerba. Afterwards you put the bulb in the cup, but you should cover the bulb with your finger, in order to not clog the mate. Drink the mate with the cold water, but spit it out, the taste is horrible.

Now you can put the hot water in. You always put the water in front of the bombilla. Now you can enjoy your tasteful mates. After drinking around half a liter, it is advisable to throw away the yerba and if you want to drink more, follow all the steps described above again.

How to Prepare and Drink Mate as the Argentines

Rules of drinking mate

  • Mate is a drink you often share with your friends or colleagues and there are some social aspects or rules you need to follow.
  • The person who prepared the mate also serves the mate, which means he or she puts the water. And, you always give the cup back to that person.
  • There is always an order or sequence if you are drinking with more than 2 people. You need to maintain this system. When you say ‘gracias’, it means that you don’t want to drink another cup so next time when it’s your turn, you will not be given the mate again. Normally you don’t say anything when you receive the mate.
  • Never rotate nor move the bulb, normally you do not even touch it with your hands.

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By knowing all this, you are now ready to prepare and drink mate Argentinian style, enjoy it! If you have any questions or fun experience to share, please don’t hesitate and just post them below here!

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