Mate is a national infusion consumed in Paraguay, Uruguay and especially Argentina. This drink can be traced back to the native Guarani people from the area. This infusion is brewed from the leaves of a small tree from the native holly tree. Mate has a few components, including the mate cup that can be made from different materials like pumpkin, wood, plastic or metal. The metal straw is called bombilla. The yerba is the leaves and warm water. I first encountered this drink in my homestay house where the husband of my homestay mom drank it the very next morning I was in Argentina. Then I saw it again around midday while he read his Bible and again in the evening. He would warm the water (but not to a boil because the temperature needed to be just right in order not to burn the leaves), get his metal mate cup, add the leaves a certain way, add the bombilla, and carefully pour the water by the bombilla to avoid wetting all the leaves. Then he would refill it as he kept drinking. This was a daily routine. This also was done by 90% percent of Argentina. I saw a couple on a date in the park sharing mate together.
The next time I saw mate was when guests came to the house. They would sit at the dining room table where they would use a single mate cup, and the server would pass it around to the guests. This Argentinian custom was affected by COVID because of the sharing of a cup. During COVID they promoted everyone getting their own mate cups and bombillas.
One of the activities we did as a class was mate tasting. I already knew that I was not going to like it because I am a coffee drinker and not a tea person. I did think I had to at least try it. Together we each got a mate cup, bombilla and yerba. They taught us how to set it up and pour in the water without wetting all the leaves. I tried it and quickly made a face; it was very strong. I can say I tried it though!