Skip to main content


I remember shortly after arriving in Argentina going to visit a friend’s house. It was only as I was about to leave I noticed a kind of wooden cup with metal tube sticking out of the top, filled with green leaves. I was pretty sure it was some drug paraphernalia at the time!

yerba mate y bombilla

After that I noticed it everywhere – people drinking yerba mate, a kind of green tea which is popular all over Argentina. It can be drunk at any time of the day: for breakfast, lunch, merienda or long into the night, and is usually accompanied with a long gossip!

Yerba is the name for the plant, or the leaves used to make the drink. Mate is the name for the drink made by infusing the leaves (and often stems, palitos) with hot (not boiling) water. I was surprised when I first saw kettles with two symbols on them, one for boiling and a little mate symbol for ~70 C (158 F) water. Mate is also used to refer to the gourds used to hold the drink.

Pava por mateSwitch on a kettle for boiling water / water for mate

It tastes amargo (bitter) when mixed with just the yerba and water, but many Argentines add sugar which makes it much smoother to drink. It is drunk through a bombilla or (usually metal) straw with a bulbous end to filter out the leaves at one end and is passed around to anyone in the vicinity!

It is a very social drink and usually one person in the group will be the servedor and keep topping up the mate with fresh water from a Thermos, sugar and replacing the yerba once it starts getting too weak. It is associated with many traditions and customs built around drinking it, which we will talk about in the following episode.

For this week, we hope you enjoy us discussing “Mate 101”… the podcast, as always, is exclusively in Spanish:




Are you ready to take your Spanish to the next level? Do you want to learn all about Argentina? This site provides Spanish listening comprehension practice on a wide range of topics related to Argentina.

7 thoughts to “Mate”

  1. I am enjoying your podcasts, but wonder if they could all be downloaded or somehow able to be listened to using podcast addict. No she LA technología, pero en la página como esto no funciona bien.

    1. Nos alegra que estes disfrutando del podcast! I will look into Podcast Addict (not used it before). You should be able to download all episodes through iTunes and/or try adding through the app, hopefully that will work!

      1. Sorry, my English autocorrect completely butchered my Spanish when I was typing that other comment on my phone. The link does work to get Podcast Addict to download the English descriptions of each post, but there’s no audio component. It just is blank where the embedded audio is from your website. I haven’t tried iTunes because I don’t have an iPhone and want to listen from my phone. I can listen from the website, but then if I have to pause it (which frequently happens with three kids) then when I go back to it the page reloads and I have to start over or remember where I was in the podcast! I really am finding them interesting and helpful though. I was a Spanish major in college and studied abroad in Spain, but might get to go to Buenos Aires for 2 weeks for work in January!

        1. Haha, that’s OK. Actually, you can probably add a language pack to your phone so it will autocorrect, but in a good way! Your work sounds interesting, if you can get them to pay for you to travel to Argentina then it can’t be all bad! I hope it works out and you get to go. I looked into the feed issue and have (tried to) set up another feed, which should just be the podcast episodes. I’d be interested to know if it works:

  2. ¡hola, Josh y Silvi, disfruto mucho de su podcast! ¿cómo se puede encontrarlos a ustedes en YouTube? tienen sí un canál YouTube también? Cuándo va a venir el episodio más nuevo?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *