How to Prepare Tereré (cold mate)

In countries where mate is drunk with hot water – such as in South of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay – it is very common to see people drinking it all year round, including during the summer. In fact, it is not uncommon to see people in Uruguay selling hot water on or near the beach during the hottest months of the year.

However, if you think that maybe that is an extreme route or if you are feeling like trying something different, the good news is that mate can and is drunk cold as well.

Called tereré, it’s the Paraguayan official drink – and since 2011, it is considered part of their cultural heritage. It is also commonly drunk in the north of Argentina and Southeast of Brazil. It is, indeed, a great option for summer days.

There are many ways of preparing tereré, and here is one of them. You will need:

  • Yerba mate with stems
  • Bombilla (metal ‘straw’)
  • A glass or cup. You can also use a mate gourd but we do not recommend doing so if you usually drink plain mate. This is because the fruity and sweet taste will linger and will clash with your next mate.
  • Cold water, diluted orange juice or lemonade
  • Ice cubes
  • Herbs such as mint or lemon grass (optional but recommended) and lime, lemon and/or orange slices.
  • Sugar (optional)

Time needed: 5 minutes.

Instructions to make tereré.

  1. Add Water

    Fill 1/3 to 1/2 of the glass with yerba mate and slant it at 45-degree angle. If you want a strong yerba flavor, cover the yerba with warm water and wait a couple of minutes.

  2. Put the bombilla

    Put the bombilla (covering the top with thumb) on the same lower side of the yerba, on a digging motion, and pressing until you reach the bottom of the gourd.

  3. Add ice cubs

    In a jug, put the ice cubes and the water, juice or lemonade. You can add the citrus slices, sugar and herbs to the jug or put them in the glass itself.

  4. Add the liquid to the lower side

    Add the liquid to the lower side, aiming as close as possible to the bombilla to avoid the higher (and dry) part of the yerba slant to get wet.

  5. Repeat step 4

    Your tereré is done! Just drink and repeat number 4.

As it happens with the hot mate, the tereré will gradually lose its flavor. When you get to that point, carefully remove the bombilla and repeat from step 2 but this time on the ‘dry side’ – opposite from where it was.

You can also start over which will give you the perfect opportunity to experiment with different herbs, fruits and even spices such as ginger or cinnamon.

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