yerba mate tea in traditional calabash gourd

How to Travel with Yerba Mate

The mate-on-the-go-kit has four essential components: a mate cup, a bombilla, yerba mate and a thermos. But what type of mate cup, bombilla and thermos are the best to travel with?

Mate cup

Two types of mate cup are particularly recommended for commuting and travelling: mate gourds and silicone mate cups. They have two key similarities: they are both lightweight and do not transfer considerable heat to the hands. However, they have a few differences.

Mate gourds are probably the most popular option. However, they are a little bit more high maintenance than silicone mate cups. For instance, you will need to ‘cure’ the mate gourd before the first use. Moreover, after using it, you also need to remove all the yerba and dry it properly to avoid mold formation. You need to pay close attention specifically if you are in a humid environment.

Silicone mate cups are practically unbreakable, but due to their flexibility, there is a small learning curve on how to use them. Because they are non-absorbent, they do not need to be ‘cured’, and mold formation is not an issue. They are washed like any other cup – in fact, most of them are also dishwasher friendly.

Mate cups and gourds come in various shapes and sizes. The quantity and duration of your mate session will determine which one to choose. However, as a rule of thumb, unless you are drinking with a large group of people or chimarrao, we recommend the small to medium mates cups and gourds.

Bombilla

We suggest using metal bombillas, as they are the most practical, sturdy and easy to clean. There are a few different types you can get in our store. In addition, you should always have a pipe cleaning brush in case yerba gets stuck inside the bombilla.

Thermos

Thermos have changed mate consumption, allowing people to drink outside their houses and for longer hours in a more efficient way. The most important requirement is that it needs to retain water at the desired temperature for a long time. For this reason, we prompt you to look for thermos with double and vacuum insulation.

In terms of size, probably the most popular thermos have a capacity of around 1 litre. We advise against thermos smaller than 0,75 litres, as you will need to refill it often.

Yerba Mate

Depending on how many people drink from your mate and how much, it could last all day with the same yerba. However, it might be useful to have yerba on hand if for instance, the mate “washed out”. To store the yerba you can use a small tin or just a Ziploc-style bag, just remember yerba needs to stay dry.

Materas

Materas are bags specifically designed to carry the basic elements of the mate kit. They have different shapes but the most popular is an oblong cylinder bag with a lid and straps to use as a cross-body bag. Traditionally made out of leather, in the last decades, there has been some experimentation, using cotton, polyester or neoprene to make them lighter and waterproof. Their shape has also varied, often adding extra compartments to give the options to also carry other day-to-day objects.

Travelling with mate

After editing your personal perfect mate-on-the-go kit, you might want to travel abroad with it. Here are a few aspects to considering before going through customs.

Defining mate

Although mate consumption is growing around the globe, it is still unknown for countless people.

I have heard numerous anecdotes from friends that have been delayed in customs offices and asked about that ‘green powder’. Be prepared to get perplexed (and sometimes wary) looks from customs officers and be ready to explain what mate is. You can read the short answer to that question here.

Keep the original package

We recommend you to keep the yerba mate on its original, new and unopened package. This is a requirement in some countries, but it is also a good practice to avoid long waits and uncomfortable situations.

To declare or not declare it?

Depending on your destination, you might need to declare your yerba mate. There might also be specific restrictions depending on the region from which you are travelling.

It is essential to research beforehand and you will notice that in most websites lack a specific category for yerba mate. However, as yerba mate is comparable to loose tea, we recommend you use the tea regulations as a general rule. If in doubt, it will always be best to contact directly with customs services.

For instance, tea is included in the EU customs allowances for travelers. However, it is not specified if it needs to be declared or if there are restrictions of package, weight or country of origin. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, tea is admissible if it is ‘commercially packaged and ready to be boiled, steeped or microwaved in liquid’. The Australian government specifies that the tea needs to be commercially prepared, packaged and labelled and its weight cannot be greater than 1 kilogram.

Mate-on-the-go requires some planning and preparation, but we can assure you the outcome is worth the trouble. We hope you have found our ‘commuting and travelling with mate’ guide helpful.

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About the Author

Michael

Founder of Matero and addicted to yerba mate. Learn more about me here.