• Special Offers

  • Link to your collections, sales and even external links

  • Add up to five columns

  • The Terminology of Yerba Mate

    November 27, 2023 5 min read

    The Terminology of Yerba Mate

    As you might guess by now, there is a huge culture around mate and with it comes a number of specific terms. Here are some of them that can ease you into the yerba mate world.


    Bombilla: A bombilla is a special metal straw that has a flat bulb-shape strainer at the end. Originally made of cane and later out of silver, nowadays is made out of stainless steel or alpaca metal.

    Bombilla tapada: Bombilla clogged by yerba dust. When this happens, more force is required when sucking to bring up the liquid, until a point is reached where it is necessary to disassemble the bombilla to unclog it.

    Tapar (to get clogged up):  Sometimes the bombilla gets clogged up with dust from the yerba mate.

    Cebador: The cebador (masc.) or cebadora (fem.) is the person that ceba (serves) the mate in a group of people.

    Aprontar: This is the name given to the previous preparation before drinking mates: preparing the yerba, heating the water, putting the bombilla in position.

    Cebar pelando: At the moment of cebar, the mate is too hot. It is related to "burning" the yerba.

    Quemar la yerba: It means to cebar with boiling water. If the recommended water temperature is exceeded (>80°C), the flavour of the yerba is spoiled.

    Ensillar the mate: Action of removing a portion of yerba mate to replace it with new yerba mate when the mate is ‘lavado’

    Encimar the mate: When the cebador prepares the mates too quickly, without waiting a little while between each one.

    Gracias (thank you):  If you say thank you to someone when they give you mate, it means you dont want to drink any more mate.

    Agua Quemada (burnt water):  Water that has been boiled (because you should never boil water for mate, see the reference to burning the yerba).

    Mate Lavado: Translated as washed out mate; it is the term used when the mate has lost its flavor due to the number of times the same yerba mate is brewed. The mate is washed when the yerba stops flavoring the mate, and this happens when it is cebado incorrectly, left to cool or used for a prolonged period of time.

    Mate laguna: It is used to describe a ‘mate lavado’ when, several pieces of yerba mate can be seen floating in the water. At this point there is very little flavor left in the infusion.

    Llanto (Crying): When mate water overflows due to excess mate water. It is associated with an inexperienced cebador.

    Mate del zonzo or mate del bobo (fools’ mate): This is a way of referring to the first mate cebado. This is the most bitter of the round. In the past, if the cebador invited the first mate to a guest, it was a sign of contempt. Even today, it is customary for the cebador to drink the first mate himself. . If you invite the first mate to someone by saying: “here is the mate del bobo”, this phrase is usually answered by the receiver of the mate in the following way: "Bobo is the one who doesn’t take it".

    Mate with montañita: The famous mountain is nothing more than the division of the yerba mate we are using (where we strain mate over the bombilla) and on the opposite side we have the new yerba mate.

    Mate with embú (Ombú): embú is a natural laxative. Mate with embú means the person who prepared it wishes to get rid of you. Sometimes it is used as a joking expression.

    Mate trancado: Mate is clogged and the bombilla does not absorb.

    Chupar (to suck):  action associated especially with the use of the bombilla.

    Cebar: To pour hot water on the mate to infuse it.

    Camisinha: A linen bag used with a straw to prevent clogging while drinking.

    Chimarrão or Cimarrón: traditional hot mate. Cimarrón is the Spanish translation of the portuguese word chimarrão. In Argentina and Uruguay is used as a synonym for bitter mate.

    Erva-mate: Portugese for Yerba Mate. Often associated with chimarrão.

    Curar: Translated as to cure the mate, it is a process done before start using the mate cups made of wood or gourd. It is done to close the pores of the cup and avoid that the taste of the container itself affect the taste of the mate. It also helps prevent mold.

    Guampa: A type of mate cup made out of cow horns.

    Limpia-bombilla: bombilla cleaner, similar to a pipe cleaning brush, usually made of thin, flexible metal and a brush at the end.

    Mate: A caffeinated drink made of leaves and stems of Yerba mate (I. paraguariensis) and usually, hot water. Mate is a drink that has been consumed for centuries and that is very popular in South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil (known as chimarrão), Paraguay and Uruguay. / Referring to the gourd, a container used to drink the beverage with the same name. Also called calabaza or porongo. It is said "drink mate", but there are other synonyms such as "drink amargos” (bitter) or "tomar verdes”.

    Porongo: Another name for the container or mate. In particular, this is the name given to gourd mates.

    Poro: Word that comes from the Quichua term "puru". It is used to refer to a small or medium-sized mate, which has a shape similar to that of a pear but somewhat rounder. It is also called "mate pear" because of its shape.

    Equipo de mate: (Mate equipment) Refers to the set of mate, bombilla and thermos.

    Yerbera: Container used to store and transport yerba. It usually comes with a dosing spout or simply with a cover.

    Mate Cocido: Translated as boiled mate or mate tea is a way of preparing the mate as it would be done with other types of teas or infusion.

    Mate de Leche: Mate that is prepared just like the traditional hot mate but using hot milk instead of water.

    Mate Dulce: Mate with sugar.

    Mateada: a meeting where people get together to drink mate.

    Matear: To drink mate for a long period of time. Also called yerbear.

    Matero or Mateador (masc.) A person that enjoys drinking mate.

    Matera or Mateadora (fem.) A person that enjoys drinking mate. / Special bag designed to carry the tools used to drink mate, such as mate gourd, bombilla, and thermos.

    Mateando: To take part in drinking yerba mate.

    Pava: A (usually) metal pot used to boil water. Also called caldera.

    Tereré: Mate that is prepared with cold or iced water.

    Termo: Vacuum flask used to keep the water hot. Nowadays it is an indispensable element for drinking mate. Amateurs carry their thermos filled with hot water all day long to brew mate wherever they go. "Termo" (thermos)

    Yerba / Yerba Mate: The product obtained after toasting and grinding the leaves of I. paraguariensis, used to drink mate.

    Yerba Mate Compuesta: The term compuesta refers to a mate blend that is formed by at least 60% of yerba and a maximum of 40% of herbs such as mint, thyme, sage, pennyroyal and rosemary.

    Vira-mate: Circular disk that is often used to cover the top of the cup for preparing chimarrão.

    Yuyos: Added ingredients to mate like ginger, cinnamon, orange peels, or herbs to make it sweeter.