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How to Brew Yerba Mate Tea: Easy Step-by-Step Instructions!

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In this guide, I’ll explain how to brew yerba mate tea. I’ll give you easy-to-follow instructions for preparing and enjoying yerba mate the traditional way.

But there are also other ways to brew this energizing drink. So whether you want to do it the conventional way or use a French press or tea bags, you will find the instructions here.

Below are simple instructions for brewing yerba mate the traditional way:

yerba mate brewing instructions

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The Traditional Way – Gourd, Bombilla and a Sharing Circle

Yerba mate tea is a healthy, refreshing, and tasty drink that has a relatively high level of caffeine. It is brewed using leaves harvested from the yerba mate plant.

traditional way of enjoying yerba mate tea
The traditional way to enjoy yerba mate tea

In the traditional way of brewing and enjoying yerba mate tea you share the gourd (bowl) with a circle of friends and family. Next, I will explain how to do this.

In order to follow these instructions, you will need:

  • Loose leaf yerba mate tea
  • Bombilla (a metal straw)
  • Gourd
  • Hot water

Traditionally the person who prepares yerba mate tea is called a “cebador” and he/she will pour the water into the gourd and pass it to each person in their turn.

You can, of course, do this by yourself. If you don’t know anyone who can teach you, it might even be a good idea to practice it a few times on your own. Then you can invite your friends to join you and act as the cebador.

Instructions for Brewing Yerba Mate the Traditional Way

Step 1 Put ground mate in the gourd

First, fill about half of your gourd with yerba mate.

Then heat some water to a temperature between 65 to 80 Celsius (or 150 to 175 Fahrenheit). You don’t have to be very accurate with the temperature, just don’t heat the water too hot so it starts boiling (or if you do, let it cool down a little). You can pour the water in a thermos to maintain its temperature.

Step 2 Make a heap and add cold water

Then cover the gourd with your palm and invert it about 180° (to a horizontal position) and tap on the bottom. This will bring the fine particles to the top and leave the larger ones at the bottom to act as a natural filter. Then revert the gourd back gently.

There should now be a heap of ground yerba mate on the other side of the gourd and a small “pit” on the other side.

Next, pour a bit of cold water on the heap of yerba mate to moisten it. The cold water will help in preserving the integrity of the mate.

Step 3 Insert bombilla and pour hot water

Put the filter end of the bombilla in the pit. Then pour hot water into the gourd to fill it about halfway. The top of the heap should still remain dry.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Sip the yerba mate tea through the straw and drink until there is no more tea in the gourd.

You can then continue by pouring hot water again into the gourd to make more tea.

Step 5: Pass it around!

If you are having a circle, pass the gourd to the next person. After the one drinking the mate has finished the tea in the gourd, he/she will then pass the gourd back to you so you can add more hot water.

This continues until everyone in the circle gets their turn to drink. Then a new round can be started. If the yerba mate starts tasting bland, it’s time to empty the gourd and then go back to step 2 (fill the gourd with a new batch of ground yerba mate).

Mastering the task of cebador can take some time. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes, instead have fun learning!

Just try to remember that you should avoid touching the bombilla during the process. Stirring can clog the bombilla and it can also cause the mate to get brewed too fast.

Below is a video that explains how to brew yerba mate tea the traditional way:

How to Prepare Yerba Mate: Traditional

The available yerba mate tea brands and products vary in their composition: some contain mostly leaves, and others can also include a lot of stems, twigs, and finer powdered material. There are blends that also include other herbs and flavors such as mint or citrus.

If you want to read more about the history and cultivation of yerba mate, read my article that explains what is yerba mate tea.

Brewing Yerba Mate with French Press

Using a French press to brew yerba mate tea is a very convenient way to make it. This is not a commonly used method in South America, where the mate tea originates from. Real yerba mate enthusiasts (materos) probably frown upon using a French press for preparing it.

However, if you don’t have a bombilla and a gourd, this is a very easy way of getting started.

Here is how to prepare yerba mate tea with a French press:

  1. Add some yerba mate in a French press. You can start with 2 tablespoons per one cup of water.
  2. Add a bit of cold water to moisten the mate and let it sit for a few minutes until it’s moist throughout.
  3. Add hot water (65-80 °C or 150-175 °F) and let it steep for a few minutes.
  4. Press the plunger down to produce clear, green-colored tea.
  5. After drinking all of the tea in the French press you can add some more hot water to make more tea. You can repeat this a few times before the drink starts getting bland.

With a French press, you can easily adjust the strength of the tea by choosing how much loose leaf yerba mate tea you use and how long you let it steep. Experiment with different amounts of yerba mate and steeping times between 1 to 3 minutes to find out which method gives the best tea for your liking.

One great option is to buy an electric tea kettle with an infuser and use it to brew your yerba mate tea.

Tereré – Refreshing Ice-cold Mate

Tereré is a traditional cold-brewed yerba mate tea. It is very popular in the tropical parts of South America because it is incredibly refreshing on a hot day.

terere pitcher, gourd and bombilla

The most notable difference between tereré and hot yerba mate tea is that tereré is prepared using cold water, which is sometimes mixed with fruit juice. In addition, other ingredients, such as herbs, sugar, and lime or lemon, can be added to give it some extra flavor.

Here is how to make tereré:

  1. Fill a pitcher or a bowl with cold water and ice.
  2. Squeeze some fresh lime (or lemon) juice and add honey or sugar (or other sweeteners).
  3. Put loose leaf yerba mate tea into your gourd or glass and insert a bombilla to the bottom.
  4. Pour the cold water in the gourd/glass and let it steep for a moment.
  5. Sip the tea through your bombilla.
  6. Pour some more water in the gourd. You can also share it with others the same way as with hot yerba mate.

I have also put together a more detailed guide for making tereré, which includes pictures.

If you want to make things a bit easier, you can try a blend of where yerba mate is already mixed with other ingredients. For example, Pajarito Mint & Lemon Yerba Mate is a blend that is excellent for making tereré.

Another way of making cold refreshing yerba mate tea is to first brew hot mate with a French press (or with some other method) and then pour it into a pitcher. Next, you can add some lime or lemon juice, mint, honey, or whatever you prefer, and then let the mate tea cool down to room temperature. Then you can just add some ice cubes or put the yerba mate in a refrigerator until it’s cold.

You can find more interesting yerba mate recipes in this article.

Tea Bag: The Easy Way to Brew Yerba Mate

Using a yerba mate tea bag is probably the easiest and fastest way to make yerba mate tea.

Just put the tea bag in a cup, add hot water, and let it brew for a couple of minutes. When using a tea bag the mate is usually quite mild depending on the amount of yerba mate in the bag and the amount of water and brewing time.

Read more about yerba mate tea bags in this article: Yerba Mate Tea Bags – Easy and Convenient

Yerba Mate K-Cups: The Modern Way

Yerba Mate K-Cups are another easy and fast way to brew a cup of tasty yerba mate tea. K-Cups are manufactured by taking loose leaf yerba mate and packing it into disposable K-Cups. You need a Keurig K-Cup brewer (or other K-Cup brewer) for brewing.

How to Make Yerba Mate FAQ

How can I brew yerba mate tea?

The traditional and most authentic way to brew yerba mate tea is to use a gourd and bombilla. This will also produce the strongest infusion compared to other methods.

The easiest way to prepare yerba mate is by using teabags. You can also use a French press or other tea infuser to prepare your yerba mate tea.

What is the best temperature for brewing yerba mate?

The recommended water temperature for making mate tea is 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit (65-80 Celsius). The exact temperature depends on the type of mate tea you are using and how strong you like it.

How long should I steep yerba mate?

When using the traditional method of preparing yerba mate tea, you don’t need to wait. You can drink it right away and then refill the gourd with hot water.

If you are using a French press or yerba mate tea bags, I recommend steeping the tea for about 1 to 3 minutes. Longer steeping time results in stronger tea.

Make Yerba Mate Tea Just the Way You Like It!

There are many ways to brew and enjoy yerba mate tea. After waking up to a cold winter day you would probably want a hot cup of mate tea before going to work. You could try the traditional way of brewing and enjoying yerba mate tea when spending time with friends and relatives.

However, in the middle of a hot summer day, you could choose to drink some ice-cold yerba mate tea with a dash of lime juice and some mint and honey. The choice is yours!

Try different yerba mate products and different brewing methods to discover your personal favorites!

See the links in this article to find more information about yerba mate and to help you in choosing which yerba mate product to try.

Now you know in theory how to brew yerba mate tea with different methods and it’s time to start experimenting!

Check out some of my yerba mate tea reviews in this article to find a good product to suit your taste.

I hope this guide was useful to you. If you have any questions or comments, or if you want to share your experience related to brewing yerba mate, please post it in the comments section below.



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6 thoughts on “How to Brew Yerba Mate Tea: Easy Step-by-Step Instructions!”

  1. Interesting! Actually, I love tea but I didn’t know that tea particularly. I find it interesting all the different ways that you can brew it, it makes it more ”flexible” so that you can enjoy it in different situations. I have a couple of friends who love tea, I will propose them the traditional way, I think they will like it 🙂

    • Hi Audrey!

      Go ahead and try yerba mate with your friends! I also recommend trying yerba mate ice-tea during a hot day, it’s very refreshing.



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