Drinking Tereré


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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.

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7 thoughts on “Drinking Tereré

  1. Tereré is not a brazilian but a Paraguayan typical drink. And you should know also the real latin name is “Ilex Paraguayensis”. The word “paraguariensis” is a miskate from registraton.

    1. Thanks for the name fix. Yerba Mate drinks are popular in several places in South America (including Brazil’s South and parts of the Mato Grosso state), but yes, if you insist, it is primarily typical of Paraguay.

  2. Hi Marcio, I just want to comment that Tereré is originally from Paraguay and is found also in northeastern Argentina and southern and western Brazil. The guaraní people call this infusion ka’ay, where ka’a means herb and y means water.

  3. I liked this post, Marcio. I was just thinking about writing about the benefits of Chimarrao on my blog. I guess I’ll wait now or I won’t look original. Chimarrao is my preferred method because due to the hot water it extracts more of the polyphenols from the yerba mate. And it’s also more digestive for the same reason. Plus, Terere usually has sugar and that’s a no-no!

    But yeah, the look is what counts! It’s more than a drink it’s a cool-looking activity 🙂

    Cheers.

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