How To

How to make Yerba Mate: Expert Tips for Easy & Awesome mates

How to make yerba mate


If you’re enthusiastic about acquiring the expertise in preparing yerba mate, or if you’ve made an attempt but didn’t quite achieve the desired outcome, there’s no need for discouragement – you’re certainly not alone! Becoming proficient in the art of brewing the ideal cup of yerba mate tea does require some practice.

We’ve guided numerous individuals like yourself in crafting their first mate, and we’ve formulated this simple, step-by-step guide to lead you through the process. It’s designed to empower you to become a maestro in yerba mate preparation, or as it’s known in Argentina, a skilled “Cebador.”

Come along with us as we unveil the secrets to consistently perfecting your mate-making abilities!

First, let’s go through the elements needed to prepare Yerba Mate in the traditional way

Select Your Yerba Mate and Tools: Begin by ensuring you have high-quality yerba mate, a mate cup, and a bombilla (a special metal straw). The choice of yerba mate depends on your personal preference, as it is available in various types and flavors.

Prepare the Mate Cup: Fill the mate cup to about two-thirds full with yerba mate. Prior to inserting the bombilla, cover the top of the mate cup with your hand, turn it upside down, and give it a gentle shake. This step helps bring the finer particles to the top, reducing the risk of the bombilla becoming clogged.

Moisten the Yerba: Tilt the mate cup until the yerba covers the side and nearly reaches the top. Then, pour hot water (make sure it’s not boiling) into the bottom half of the mate cup. Allow the yerba mate to sit and absorb the water for a few moments, as this enhances the flavor.

Insert the Bombilla: Carefully place the filtered end of the bombilla into the yerba at an angle, ensuring it reaches the bottom of the cup securely.

Pour the Hot Water: Now, you can pour the hot water (at a temperature of 140-158°F or 60-70°C) into the yerba mate. Always pour the water into the same spot to maintain a consistent flavor.

Enjoy Your Yerba Mate: Your yerba mate is now ready to be enjoyed. You can refill the mate cup with hot water as many times as you like until the yerba mate loses its flavor.

Clean the Mate Cup and Bombilla: After you’ve finished, empty the yerba mate from the cup, rinse the bombilla with warm water, and clean the inside of the mate cup. Allow everything to dry completely before storing.

Congratulations! You’ve now mastered the traditional method of preparing yerba mate. Savor your delightful beverage and the invigorating energy it provides!

Yerba Mate kit

Step by Step: How to Make Yerba Mate the traditional way

1) Fill your mate gourd with 3/4 of Yerba Mate

Starting your journey of preparing Yerba Mate begins with selecting the specific blend you’d like to enjoy. Once you’ve made your choice, take your mate cup and fill it to about 3/4 full with your chosen loose leaf Yerba Mate. A typical serving size typically falls within the range of 30-50 grams, depending on the volume of your mate gourd.

It’s important not to overfill the cup. As the mate leaves absorb water, they expand, and overfilling can lead to a clogged mate, making it difficult to drink. On the other hand, underfilling your mate cup with less than 3/4 of Yerba Mate creates a higher water-to-Yerba Mate ratio. This has a two-fold effect: it allows the bombilla (straw) to move around too freely (which is not desirable), and it shortens the lifespan of your mate, causing it to become “lavado” or washed out more quickly. Properly portioning your Yerba Mate ensures a balanced and enjoyable drinking experience.

2) Shake your mate and make a “montañita”

In the second phase of preparing your Yerba Mate, your objective is to evenly disperse the various elements of the blend: leaves, stems, and particles. To accomplish this, employ one hand to shield the upper part of the mate cup and gently invert it. This maneuver enables the denser elements, like the larger leaves and stems, to descend to the lower section of your mate cup. Concurrently, the smaller fragments and dust particles will ascend toward the middle and upper portions of the gourd. As the filter of your bombilla will be in contact with the bottom of the mate, it’s crucial to ensure the presence of the larger components in that region to prevent any hindrance to the flow of water. Upon successfully flipping the mate to align all the elements, proceed to cautiously agitate it, generating a 45-degree incline within the gourd. This configuration, often termed a “montañita,” serves an indispensable role in extending the life cycle of your mate, as you will soon discover in the subsequent steps.

3) Pour warm water to soak the dry leaves

After successfully crafting your flawless montañita, the subsequent phase entails delicately moistening the mate leaves to prepare them for the brewing process. This step is of paramount importance as it safeguards the leaves against scorching when you introduce hot water later on. To execute this, carefully pour a small quantity of tepid water into the lower region of the slope, precisely within the area where you intend to insert the bombilla in the future. Your focus should be directed towards dampening solely the lower part of the slope, as this initial saturation is designed to prime the yerba leaves for the brewing phase. As the leaves imbibe the water, they commence swelling, a process that aids in averting potential blockage of the bombilla straw during consumption. The temperature of the water at this juncture is a pivotal factor, as it establishes the foundation for the flavor profile of your mate adventure. The use of water at room temperature will yield a milder mate, while hotter water will impart a more potent, robust flavor. Based on extensive experimentation and feedback from a multitude of mate enthusiasts, we have determined that the optimal water temperature for this initial saturation falls within the range of 60 to 70 degrees Celsius (140-158°F).

4) Introduce the bombilla in the mate

Having successfully aligned your Yerba Mate and adequately moistened it, the subsequent task involves the insertion of the bombilla, the metal straw furnished with a filter at one end. To execute this step effectively and mitigate the potential for blockages, adhere to the following guidelines: Shield the Top of the Bombilla: Begin by positioning your index finger over the upper extremity of the bombilla. This precautionary measure serves to forestall the creation of a vacuum effect that might otherwise draw in small leaves or dust, ultimately obstructing the straw. Introduce the Bombilla: With caution, insert the bombilla into the mate cup, angling it diagonally across the meticulously crafted slope. Your objective is to insert it until the filtered extremity of the bombilla comes into contact with the bottom of the mate cup. Release Your Finger: Only upon ascertaining that the bombilla is securely in place, with its filter resting at the base of the cup, should you release your finger from the upper end of the bombilla. By adhering to these procedures, you facilitate a seamless flow of liquid through the bombilla, thereby minimizing the risk of clogs and enhancing the overall gratification of your mate-drinking experience.

5) Serve your first mate

You’ve come a long way, and now it’s time to serve your first mate. Ensure you have hot water ready in your thermos, with the temperature ideally ranging from 75 to 85 degrees Celsius (167-185°F).

Remember, the water temperature significantly impacts the mate’s strength. Higher temperatures yield a bolder mate, but keep in mind that it shortens the drink’s duration. To avoid scalding the yerba leaves and maintain an optimal flavor profile, refrain from using boiling water. A suitable starting point is water heated to approximately 80 degrees Celsius (176°F).

To serve the mate:

  1. Pour the Hot Water: Begin by gently adding hot water at the base of the slope. Observe how the montañita, the little mountain of yerba mate, starts to rise. However, exercise caution not to pour water all the way to the top, leaving some of the upper leaves dry.

  2. Savor the Moment: You are now ready to relish your first sip of mate. Enjoy the unique flavors of this South American delight.

  3. Repeat: Continue this process, adding hot water as many times as you desire to extend your mate experience. Each round you partake in will gradually reduce the mate’s intensity. However, by initially keeping some leaves dry, you can prolong the mate’s life, ensuring you make the most of this cherished ritual.

Congratulations, you have successfully prepared your mate! Embrace the moment and enjoy your mate to the fullest.

As you can see, the art of preparing yerba mate tea can be quick and straightforward when following this guide. Follow these steps, and you’ll become a master of mate preparation in no time. If you still have any doubts, you can refer to our video tutorial, which demonstrates these same steps interactively.

How to Make Yerba Mate in Only 5 Steps | Video Tutorial

What type of Yerba Mate should I choose?

Considering the wide array of mate options at your disposal, selecting the right type of yerba mate tea ultimately comes down to your individual taste preferences. We recommend conducting a taste experiment with various varieties to discern your preferred choice. For your initial mate experience, it’s advisable to begin with milder yerba mates, as they are generally more forgiving when it comes to preparation.

If you find the milder options to be too gentle for your liking, don’t hesitate to venture into stronger or more robust varieties later on. However, it’s typically a smoother transition from lighter to stronger yerba mates, rather than the reverse. It’s worth mentioning that there are also yerba mate variations infused with additional fruits or other ingredients, which tend to have a milder flavor profile and are an excellent choice for beginners.

To ignite your yerba mate journey, we’ve compiled a list of diverse brewing methods below. Each approach offers a distinct way to relish this South American treasure. So, explore, experiment, and, above all, savor every delightful sip!

Alternative Ways Of Making Yerba tea

What’s wonderful about yerba mate is its remarkable versatility, granting you the freedom to experiment and customize the preparation process to align with your individual tastes. Just as people possess their unique characteristics, the methods of enjoying yerba mate can also be distinctive and personalized.

Traditional Method (South American Style)

  • Tools Needed: Yerba mate, a mate gourd, and a bombilla (metal straw).
  • Instructions: Fill the gourd ¾ full with yerba mate, cover the top, and shake to mix. Add warm water to one side, let it soak, then insert the bombilla at an angle. Pour hot water (not boiling) over the yerba mate when ready to drink.

French Press

  • Tools Needed: French press and loose-leaf yerba mate.
  • Instructions: Add yerba mate to the French press, pour hot water, and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Press down the plunger slowly and serve.

Tea Infuser / Tea Bag

  • Tools Needed: Tea infuser or pre-packaged yerba mate tea bag.
  • Instructions: Place yerba mate in the infuser or use a tea bag, pour hot water over it, and let it steep for 3-5 minutes.

Cold Brew (Tereré)

  • Tools Needed: Yerba mate, cold water, and a jar or pitcher.
  • Instructions: Add yerba mate to the container, fill with cold water, and let it steep in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

Iced Yerba Mate

  • Tools Needed: Yerba mate, hot water, ice.
  • Instructions: Brew yerba mate with hot water, let it cool, and then pour over ice.

Yerba Mate Latte

  • Tools Needed: Yerba mate, hot water, milk (dairy or plant-based).
  • Instructions: Prepare yerba mate with hot water, add your choice of milk, and sweeten if desired.

Yerba Mate with Citrus or Herbs

  • Tools Needed: Yerba mate, hot water, lemon/orange slices, or fresh herbs.
  • Instructions: Brew yerba mate, add slices of citrus or fresh herbs like mint or lemon balm, and enjoy.

Experimenting with Flavors

Feel free to get creative and add spices like cinnamon, cloves, or ginger to create a unique and personalized yerba mate experience.


Armed with these diverse techniques and creative concepts, you have a multitude of avenues to explore and discover your preferred manner of relishing yerba mate. Embrace the joy of experimentation!

This particular preparation method offers a mellower flavor profile, and should you wish to intensify the taste to better suit your preferences, you can adjust the temperature upwards or extend the brewing time with the yerba mate leaves.


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