The Right Way of Drinking Yerba Mate Tea (Like a Local)

How to Drink Yerba Mate? – Explained

Couple enjoying Tea together

Drinking yerba mate isn’t like drinking a typical herbal tea. In fact, it’s unlike most other beverages out there! This customary South American tea not only has a unique taste, but it’s consumed in a special ceremony with important cultural and social significance.

In short, there are a few different ways to drink and brew yerba mate. It’s typically brewed in a gourd, the traditional cup in which the tea is steeped and drunk and consumed with a bombilla (pronounced bom-bee-yah), the traditional yerba mate straw. Once it’s brewed, yerba mate is enjoyed in a social setting by passing around a circle to share.

To get the most out of your yerba mate experience, there are a number of things to keep in mind. So how do you drink yerba mate like a local? Read on.

What is the Best Way to Drink Yerba Mate?

We will dive deeper into brewing methods below, but at Sibo Survivor, we believe the best way to drink your brewed yerba mate is to honor the traditional brewing method and ceremony.

Mindfully participating in the yerba mate drinking ritual honors its ancient roots and is a great way to truly savor your yerba mate. Plus, it is a special opportunity to socially connect and share this healthy beverage!

Drinking Yerba Mate the Traditional Way

First things first, you will need to gather some family and friends and enjoy the ceremony with you.

Once you brew your yerba mate, you are ready to begin the ceremony and drink your tea. The first thing to know is that the person who prepares the tea is called “el cebador,” who will pour the water and pass the beverage to each participant.

The ceremony proceeds as follows:

  1. The cebador takes the first sip.
  2. The cebador sips the brewed yerba mate through the bombilla until no more remains. Do not jiggle the gourd or bombilla to attempt to stir it; keep the bombilla still.
  3. Once the gourd is empty, add more hot water.
  4. Pass the gourd and bombilla along in the circle so the next person can drink the contents of the gourd. Once they are done, the el cebador will pass it along to the next person.
  5. As people drink the tea, continue to refill and pass it along. Usually, it takes about ten refills before it starts to lose its flavor.
  6. Once the yerba mate tastes bland, the el cebador will empty your gourd, refill, and start again.
  7. After the ceremony, clean the gourd and leave it to dry; if it is made from natural materials and remains wet, it may rot.

A note about yerba mate ceremony etiquette:

If a ceremony participant does not want any more mate, they say “thank you” to el cebador. Saying “thank you” indicates that they are done, so the participants should not say thank you until you no longer want a refill.

→ Now that we’ve covered the best way to drink yerba mate, let’s look at the best ways to brew it.

Special tea

Traditional Yerba Mate Brewing Method

  1. Heat water to 65-80 degrees Celcius (150 to 175 Fahrenheit). If the water is boiling hot, it will burn the yerba mate and damage your gourd.
  2. Fill half of the gourd with the loose, dry yerba mate.
  3. Cover the gourd with your palm and flip it over, then tap on the bottom. This allows the fine particles to go to the top and leaves the large particles at the bottom, which act as a filter.
  4. Turn the gourd on its side and shake it lightly several times, bringing the larger stems to the surface. This makes it easier to filter out the powdery leaves.
  5. Turn the gourd back upright very slowly, so the yerba mate leaves are piled on one side of the gourd,
  6. Insert the bombilla into your gourd on the side that does not have the yerba mate leaves.
  7. Pour cool water into the gourd in the space between the bombilla and yerba mate leaves; stop once the water is just about to reach the top of the leaf pile. Wait for the leaves to absorb the water.
  8. Pour in your hot water into the space in the middle, keeping the top of the leaf pile dry, until the gourd is almost full.
  9. Now it’s ready to drink!

French Press Yerba Mate Brewing Method

Alright, we know that not everyone will go through the trouble of the traditional brewing method. So if you want a quick option, you can also brew your yerba mate in the French press:

  1. Add two tablespoons of yerba mate to your French press for every one cup of water.
  2. Add a bit of cold water to moisten the mate; let it sit so it can moisten throughout. This helps protect the integrity of the mate and flavor.
  3. Add hot water, between 65-80 degrees Celcius or 150 to 175 Fahrenheit.
  4. Let the tea steep for a few minutes.
  5. Press the French press plunger down, and it is ready to serve.
  6. You can continue to add hot water to the French press and drink several rounds.

Tea Bag Yerba Mate Brewing Method

If you’re a ‘grab and go’ person, the tea bag brewing method is another convenient and quick way to brew your yerba mate.

  1. Take a loose tea bag and put a spoonful of loose yerba mate tea inside.
  2. Drop your tea bag into a mug.
  3. Add a bit of cold water on top of the tea bag.
  4. Add hot water, between 65-80 degrees Celcius or 150 to 175 Fahrenheit.
  5. Steep for as long as you like, and enjoy!

Pro Tip: If your yerba mate is too bitter, don’t sweeten it- pair it with a sweet treat on the side so your palette can adjust.

Is it Safe to Drink Yerba Mate Every Day?

Yes, absolutely! However, like most beverages, it should be consumed in moderation.

When consumed in large quantities for long periods of time (many liters a day), it comes with potential risks, including an increased risk of cancer. [1] However, the average person drinking normal amounts of yerba mate does not need to be concerned with this.


Drinking yerba mate the traditional way is not as simple as steeping leaves and drinking water. Brewing with the customary gourd with bombilla allows for the best flavor and overall experience. If you have not yet tried a traditional yerba mate ceremony, it is a wonderful way to enjoy this beverage and connect with this ancient South American practice.

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Written by Stephanie Moore

Stephanie is a professional writer who is a ‘SIBO survivor’ herself with broad experience writing in the health field. She is a regular writer for SIBO Survivor and calls Berlin, Germany home.


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