If you think that The Mate is drink called Mate let me explain you that the Mate is an excuse for create an informal meeting in where we the "Rioplatenses" (Both side of River Plate natives) we see at different schedules to enjoy our reciprocal company. The Mate is a reason for meet and share, is another link like the word or the gestures
Now that you have the real definition of Mate, I will bring you three secondary definitions: Mate is a receptacle where an infusion called Mate is served, this infusion is done based in the leaves of a plant named Yerba Mate (OK, those were the three definitions)
Unlikde Tea or Coffee, in the Mate the grinded leaves of Yerba Mate remains always in streight contact with the water. You wil drink this water through a metalic straw named "bombilla". The Mate is huge different from Coffee and Tea that makes it so much better and funny, of course (All right, this is an Argentinean comment, But it is true!). Mate is a natural diuretic wich also eliminates the risk of insomnia and it is a cleaner of body toxins.
More basic information about Mate: When and How to drink it
Basic: Never reject a Mate, is really so discourteous. It doesn't means a duty of drink two liters of Mate, you just finish the first and say "gracias" (Thanks).
Basic II: Never, but really never, clean the straw before drink a Mate, and neither do it after, is of bad-mannered and unnecesasary because the hot water cleans the straw. As I told you, Mate is basically a social event, and if it have codes, is a not formal one like the tea ceremony. You can drink it before breakfast, at mid-morning, after lunch, at evening. Is so social that is really crazy to drink it alone.
"Pikiniki", Thermos, Mate and Round The Mate is drunk from ten to one hundred and twenty years, from students, couples who get up early to take kids to school, the retired people at the home's door, the clercks, the sellers and the Uruguayan Brothers who really drink it also walking on the street. Talking about Thermos, there is the Mate Set, what is a bag containing all the elements you need to do a Mate: The Thermos, the Mate, Sugar, Straw, Spoon, Yerba Mate. Each well-named Argentinean have one at home, ready for go to pic-nic ("pikiniki"). Of course if we go to "pikiniki" we go to Palermo Parks, or we can go to the side of some route. You can ask me to do this nice experience.
The Mate is drunk by turns, who prepares it is who goes feeding it with water, each person that receives the Mate have to drink it complete and return it to the "arranger" (cebador)
The Pava is a Mate Kettle similar but not equal to the Tea Kettle, because its mouths is really narrow, fundamental to do a good Mate, the siphon is also more rounded. Both conditions are the key for not burn your fingers when you are feeding the Mate wiht hot water!. In addition the Pava carry out the duty of indicate with its typical humming when the water have got the right temperature. Some fanatic people defined it as 165,3 F°. This humming is really different from Tea Kettles, believe me.
Sweet Mate and Bitter Mate
For purist the Mate is bitter from iths definition because in this way was drunk by the Guaranies, the aborigins who invented it more than four hundred years ago. If you are not a Guarani Aborigin born in 1600 I think that you have the right of add sugar to Mate, just like the half of the inhabitants of this Country. But consider that if you add a little sugar spoon to each Mate, you will be drinking a huge amount of calories and the nice qualities of Mate will go...well, to a second position.
Short Materean Dictionary
Mate of Sillys: The first one, because it is full of Yerba Mate dust. In theory the person who have prepared it, the "cebador", should drink it.
Washed Mate: A bad done Mate or those who was many times drunk doesn't do any more foam, little sticks could seen floating and it taste nothing. Put your upset face and say "Uf! It's washed! Why don't you fix it?"
Fix the Mate: Take out a little bit of used Yerba Mate and put a new one, in this way, this way the Mate is streched and it is possible to do a couple of rounds more.
Bombilla: Is the metallic straw used to drink the Mate
Porongo: Is the recipent of Mate. By definition the Mate recipient is a dry squash peel. The word porongo as also picaresque meanings, so just use only the word Mate. Other recipients: Cow hoof, Porongo lether covered, Porongo with silver short legs, glazed thin, veneered thin, porcelain (this last is modern and fancy, not traditional at all,but I use one of them). Never use a plastic glass, never a tea cup.
How to prepare a Mate
HTo do the Mate is an art, an easy one, but if you cook, you perfectly know that there is not recipe that works if it is perfectly followed but without grace. Basically is about to fill the Mate with Yerba Mate and put the straw inside. Add tepid water and let the Yerba Mate to absorb it. Do you want it sweet? Ok, this is the right moment to add one sugar spoon. Add a quarter more of the recipient with Yerba mate. When the Mate Keetle (Pava) start to hume, add more water with a narrow stream, slowly, just beside the straw. if you see foam, Congratulations!, you have just degree of "Cebador"
Cautions about the Mate
This are the three things you have to keep in mind:
a. ¡Beware with the straw! Suck carefully the first time you get a Mate, you may be so emphatic and burn your throat
b. ¡No more than four! The Mate have wonderful laxative and diuretic qualities, if you body is not acostumed, you could receive and excess of this benefits.
c. ¡Never cold! The cold Mate increase the benefits stated in b, so beware of "Tereré" (Cold Mate)
Now you can see this nice video gently recorded by my Friend Mark McElroy from MadebyMark Thanks Mark for this record!