A bombilla, pronounced bom-bee-shah, is the straw that is used to drink yerba mate tea. The Guarani people in South America were originally using hollow stalks and twigs as the straw for drinking mate tea.
Over time, bombillas evolved into fine straws, usually made from metal.
Yerba mate bombilla and gourd are the traditional brewing and drinking instruments that every true matero always has within arm’s reach!
Harvested yerba mate leaves are dried, chopped, and ground to get the typical yerba mate product. When you brew mate tea and enjoy it the traditional way, you are drinking it from a gourd.
However, you are not supposed to sip the tea directly from the gourd, instead, you use a bombilla. The purpose of the bombilla is to act like a straw and a filter so that you can enjoy your yerba mate tea without the leaves coming into your mouth.
Bombillas can be made with different materials and come in various designs.
Here are the different types of bombillas introduced in this guide:
- Spoon Bombilla: The most common type of a bombilla that can be used with all yerba mate cuts.
- Coiled Bombilla: Good for beginners. Has a spring-shaped filter and does not clog easily.
- Fanned Bombilla: Great choice for connoisseurs who want to sip mate slowly and appreciate its taste.
- Double-Action Bombilla: Combination of coiled and spoon bombilla.
- Chambered Bombilla: Has a chamber that resembles a tea-ball.
- Bamboo Bombilla: A very simple bombilla made of a thin bamboo cane.
Spoon Bombillas – The All-Around Favorite
Spoon may be the most common shape for a bombilla and it can be used with any type of yerba mate cut.
For example, Gaucho Mate is a type of mate with high powder content and a spoon bombilla should always be used when drinking it to avoid the small particles coming into your mouth. At the lower end of the bombilla, there is a spoon-shaped filter with small holes in it. Spoon bombillas are most common in Uruguay.
Amazon is currently selling very elegant looking gold-plated spoon bombillas (click on the image below to find it on Amazon):
Coiled Bombilla – For Smooth Flow
A coiled bombilla has a spring shaped filter and does not clog as easily as spoon or circle shaped bombillas.
I can recommend coiled bombillas for beginners and materos who want their yerba mate to flow smoothly. When using this kind of bombilla, small pieces of leaves might come through the filter.
The coiled bombilla below is available on Amazon:
Fanned Bombilla – The Perfect Choice for a Mate Connoisseur
With fanned bombillas, the tea goes through several horizontal slivers, which act as a filter. This type of bombilla has quite high resistance for the flow of liquid and thus, the mate tea comes through more slowly. A fanned bombilla is the perfect choice for materos who really want to appreciate the fine taste of yerba mate tea!
A fanned bombilla does not clog very easily and it is good for scraping out the used yerba from the gourd. Also, its shape allows you to easily maneuver the yerba inside the gourd if you need to do that.
Other Shapes – There Are Many
There are also more shapes to choose from. A double-action bombilla is a standard bombilla in Argentina and it combines the coiled and spoon bombilla. It has several holes at the end, as well as a spring, whose purpose is to act as a second filter.
A chambered bombilla has a tea-ball-like chamber at the end. It’s a cool looking bombilla but it has a quite complicated design that doesn’t always work so well.
A bamboo bombilla is made of a thin bamboo cane which is slightly bent. The lower part should have some type of crevices to act as a filter. This kind of bombilla is very inexpensive and you can also easily make it yourself. If you are very close to nature, this might be your choice!
Bombilla Materials – Metal or Bamboo
Stainless steel is probably the most common material for modern bombillas. It is durable, inexpensive, and easily available. It doesn’t rust and it is easy to clean it, or you can put it in a dishwashing machine.
A very affordable stainless steel bombilla set (click image to find it on Amazon):
Nickel bombillas are also quite common since they are relatively strong and inexpensive. However, nickel can cause allergy to some people.
Silver bombilla is your choice if you want some luxury! It looks nice and elegant and is very durable. If you want to go even further you can buy a silver bombilla with some gold in the mouthpiece region.
As mentioned earlier, bamboo is a natural and very inexpensive material for bombilla. Bamboo bombilla is often used for drinking tereré (ice-cold mate). Also, wooden bombillas are sometimes used.
Here is a nice set which includes a bamboo bombilla:
Here is just a bamboo bombilla:
Which Yerba Mate Bombilla Suites Your Style and Personality?
Now that you have the basic knowledge about bombillas with different shapes and materials, you can start thinking which one(s) you would like to use.
It is not only about the practicality and usability of the bombilla, but also the style and feel are equally important. Choose the bombilla that suits your style and personality, or obtain several different types for different occasions!
Also, check out this guide with my favorite mate brands to help you to choose a good yerba mate tea.
Yerba Mate Bombilla FAQ
What is a bombilla?
Bombilla is a straw that is used to drink yerba mate tea from a gourd. This is the traditional way of enjoying mate tea. Bombillas are usually made of metal (eg. stainless steel, silver) and they have some type of filter in the end to prevent the pieces loose leaf yerba mate from getting inside the straw.
What type of mate bombilla is best?
Choosing the best bombilla depends on the type of mate tea you drink, especially the cut, and your personal preference.
Spoon bombilla is the most common and can be used with all cuts. Coiled bombilla is suitable for beginners because it doesn’t clog easily.
How can I clean my bombilla?
After you are finished drinking your yerba mate tea, remove the bombilla from the gourd and rinse it with clean water. For thorough cleaning, heat some water to boil and add a bit of vinegar. Next, disassemble the bombilla if that is possible and place it in the hot water water 5 minutes. Then clean with a brush and assemble it again.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions or comments you can post them in the comments section below.
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2 thoughts on “Yerba Mate Bombilla – The Traditional Straw”
After reading your post, I really wanted to leave a comment, just to say you did a great job.
I knew nothing about these straws at all. I found it very interesting and something people will really be happy to learn about.
The way straws are becoming so popular now, I found your content very relevant and engaging.
Hi Coralie! Thanks for your comment and happy to hear that you found my article interesting.