Explore the Source: What is Yerba Mate Tea?

Ever wonder, what is Yerba Mate?  Well, our Royal New York tea traders are here to teach you more about this tea and share some recipes with you!

What is Yerba Mate?

Mate, also known as chimarrão, is a type of caffeinated holly leaf native to South America.  Originally consumed in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Brazil, it is the national beverage of Argentina.  Today, both Argentina and Brazil are the largest producers of mate in the world!

Explore the Source: Mate Seleme

The beginnings of Mate Seleme

Speaking of Brazil, we have been sourcing our organic Brazilian Mate from Mate Seleme since 2020. Mate Seleme’s history, however, goes way back as they were founded over 100 years ago. In 1918, Emiliano Abrão Seleme established Mate Seleme.  At this time, production and facilities for Mate Seleme were quite small and they operated out of a simple shed, exporting their mate to Argentina. 

Over time, the company grew and in 1957, Emiliano’s brother, João Abrão Seleme, took over the company.  João helped to increase exports as they expanded into Uruguay and Chile.  This expansion proved to help secure the future of Mate Seleme.  Because of Argentina’s success growing mate in the Missiones Province, they eventually halted all imports from Brazil.  Unfortunately, this caused a massive recession for the Yerba industry in Brazil and many exporting companies went out of business.  Thankfully, Mate Seleme overcame the crisis by relying on exports to Uruguay who preferred the taste of native yerba from Brazil.

Mate Seleme today

In 1995, Mate Seleme was passed down to João’s children, Jaime and Wilson.  Wilson Seleme has since become the major shareholder and focused on expansion.  Under his leadership, Mate Seleme has expanded exports to Asia, Europe and the Americas (including us at Royal New York!).

How to drink Yerba Mate

Now that you have some history on yerba mate, it’s time to learn how to brew it! There are many different methods from traditional to contemporary and tereré, all outlined below. We also included a fun and colorful recipe for a Summer Mate Punch, check them out!

Traditional Method

The traditional way to brew mate is to brew and sip it from a calabash gourd in a group setting. When you brew it in this way, the leaves remain in the calabash gourd for many infusions. It’s important to use the special straw, bombilla, which has holes in the flared end. These holes make the bombilla work as both a straw and a sieve, ensuring that you do not consume the tea leaves.

To brew mate, first, fill the gourd about 3/4 of the way with mate leaves.  Then, put your hand over the top of the cup and shake upside down so that you redistribute the smaller leaves to the top.  After that, hold the vessel so that the mate forms a wall on one side.  Position the bombilla so that the sieve is at the bottom of the gourd and add a small amount of cool water to begin the infusion.  Once this step is complete, you can add small amounts of water at 150F and sip.

Contemporary Method

Like other tea and tisanes, you can brew Mate either hot or cold.  Put 2-3 grams of mate in a filter or teapot, and steep with 175F water for 4-5 minutes.  To cold brew, steep 3oz of mate per gallon of cool water for 8 hours.

Tereré Method

The traditional method of brewing and drinking mate can also be done with cold water, which is usually infused with fruit or herbs to make tereré.  Like with the gourd and bombilla, the tea will remain in the cup and you can steep it multiple times.  We used slices of lemon, lime, and orange, but many other fruits and herbs will work! 

Summer Mate Punch


1 cup water
3g Mate
3g Lemongrass
2g Peppermint
Orange, 1/2 sliced
Lemon, 1/2 sliced
Lime, 1/2 sliced
Fruit Blend, 1 cup
Lemonade, 1 cup
Sparkling water, plain or fruit-flavored, 1 cup
Ice cubes


Steep the mate, lemongrass, and peppermint in 175F water for 5 minutes, and set aside to cool. In a pitcher, combine ice with fruit slices and pieces. We used dragon fruit and mango! Add brewed herbs and lemonade into the pitcher, and top with sparkling water. Serve as is, or for an extra kick of citrus and spice, add Tajin to the rim of your glasses.

So now that you’re familiar with what mate is, it’s time to include it in your café menu! Shop Organic Brazilian Yerba Mate here!