The mate lexicon: Defining yerba mate

Yerba Mate is much more than a South American plant and an infusion with multiple benefits. There is a whole culture behind this awesome beverage, but also a full lexicon specific to Yerba Mate. We’ve defined some of these words to help you demystify this culture that is still too little known around the world!



The Gaucho is the Argentinian cowboy, or the free man of the Pampa. He is a true Argentine symbol; he is the keeper of herds in the meadows of the Pampa, and around who developed a whole culture, traditions, rites, culinary ways, etc. We can find him on horseback, a thermos and a gourd full of mate in hand!


A Matero is a fan of mate. This person drinks it everyday, all day long and in large quantities. In other words, we could say that everyone who loves and drinks mate is a matero.


The Cebabor is the one who prepares and serves mate infusion. Traditionally, mate is consumed in gatherings of several guests. The gourd is then passed from person to person, and it’s the cebador’s job to fill it up with water when it’s empty. The name comes from the verb “cebar”, which means “to pour water over mate to infuse it”.


La Pampa is a province in central Argentina, west of Buenos Aires, home of indigenous tribes before the Spanish colonization. Its vast territory and routes are traveled by Gauchos, Argentinian cowboys and true symbol of the Pampas, sharing the culture and traditions of yerba mate in their encounters.


When people get together to share a gourd, we call these events “Mateada”. At Mateina, we like to call these moments “Gourd Time”.


Quite simply, it’s a cold drink in which mate is served over ice or with cold water. In other words, it’s an iced mate, and we based our ready-to-drink mate infusions from this recipe.


It’s the gourd; the traditional container in which we drink yerba mate the Argentinian way. They are traditionally made of gourd, hence the name “calabash”, but can also be made of other materials and can take many different shapes. The calabash usually comes with a bombilla, a filter straw used to drink mate infusions.


This is the must-have tool for drinking yerba mate the traditional South American way. It’s a straw with a filter at one end that filters the mate leaves and stems so you can drink the infusion properly. Very often made of stainless steel, the bombilla is essential to drink a mate infusion in a gourd.


It’s a different kind of gourd! It is rather shaped like a horn since it is traditionally made from the horn of a herd animal. It is mainly used in Argentina and Paraguay to drink the traditional infusion.


You’ve probably noticed that there are little white twigs in our loose leaf mate. They are called “palos”; They are added to mate blends to enhance the flavour and this is what makes mate less bitter. They are therefore a natural sweetener and are also rich in theobromine, which has an impact on the effect of mate. 


It’s the powder that’s added to the mate leaves. “Polvo” literally means “dust” “powder” in Spanish. It is part of the loose leaf mate recipe, and this is what gives yerba mate its bitter and strong taste.


It’s another name for mate. In fact, it’s the term used in Brazil to refer to mate infusion. But, it is a milder infusion with a more intense and bitter taste than the Argentinian mate.


It’s simply the translation of “Yerba Mate” in Portuguese! So, in Brazil, people call it “Erva Mate”.