For a country that is one of the major producers of tea, it is a tisane that has caught the fancy of its people. The yerba mate has been popular among the locals since time immemorial. Folklore suggests the plant was a gift from the Gods themselves. It all began when an aging man was unable to keep up with his migrating tribe. He stayed back and with him, his youngest daughter Jary. One day, a shaman arrived at their doorstep and asked Jary what she wanted to stay happy. Before Jary could utter a word, her father spoke up and wished for good heath so that he could reunite Jary with the tribe. He believed she would find true happiness only among their tribe. The shaman gifted him a green plant and gave him instructions on nurturing and brewing its leaves in water. The aged man sipped on this brew every day and soon had enough strength to catch up with the tribe and reunite his daughter with them. Ever since, this mate plant is consumed by Argentinians to reinvigorate themselves.
As tea grew popular across the world, the Argentinian Government imported tea seeds from China and urged farmers to cultivate it. This was in 1924, when Argentina was importing a variety of teas. By the 1950s, Argentina became one of the leading producers of tea and the beverage found its place right next to the yerba mate.
Back in the 19th century, the British suppressed people from speaking the Welsh language. Seeking cultural freedom, several Welsh people migrated to Argentina. With them came the British way of drinking tea – with a dash of milk and sugar, and the concept of High Tea. Over the years, the Welsh set up several tea shops across Argentina and today, they are extremely popular even among Argentinians.
The Yerba Mate has become a part of every social gathering. Argentinians brew the mate and pour it into a big mug which is passed on to everyone in the group. As a gesture of respect to the other members of the group, the host, known as the cebador, brews the mate, takes the first sip and passes it to others only after he/she is satisfied with the brew. The first person to be offered the drink by the cebador takes 5-6 sips and passes the mate cup back to the host. The host then adds water to the brew and rest of the group enjoys this drink.