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Tereré is a drink typical in the mid-West of Brazil, made with yerba-mate, lime juice and cold water.
Yerba Mate is the name given to the dry mix of leaves and twigs of the Ilex Paraguariensis plant, native of certain regions of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.
It contains some caffeine (about twice as much as regular tea – but brewed leaves have a lot less caffeine compared to coffee) and is said to invigorate tired men, assist in weight loss, provide anti-oxidants, cure the most varied maladies. The xanthines (compounds similar to caffeine) combination is different from and said to be more “balanced” than in coffee (I have no idea).
But the reason it is consumed in the Southern portion of South America since pre-colonial times is neither its magical properties nor its flavor. The reason is that it is cool to drink tea from a hollow gourd (“cuia” in Portuguese or “guampa” in Spanish) and a metal straw (“bomba”/”bombilla”).
Most usually, yerba mate is enjoyed with hot water (like a reeeeealy strong green tea) and it is meant to be shared among the group of people (secret: I don’t like to share). That is called “Chimarrão” in Brazil and “Cimarrón” in the Spanish-speaking countries.
“Cocido Paraguayo”, a variation specific from Paraguay and served in instances where you would serve a cup of coffee: mix the yerba mate with sugar in a container. Drop a flaming piece of charcoal into it so that the mate is charred and the sugar caramelizes. Add hot water. Remove the piece of charcoal. Pass through a sifter.
“Terere” is a variation popular in Paraguay and Brazilian mid-West, the difference being that it is prepared with ice-cold water and a touch of lime juice. Sometimes people add sugar or use cold fruit juice (I don’t).
Yerba Mate can be purchased in the US these days online or in stores selling South American products.