Uruguay consumes around 18 lb of tea per capita per year.
Mate is the most iconic non-alcoholic beverage in the country, being part of the culture for centuries.
Uruguayan tea culture is heavily influenced by Argentina, and they import all of their Yerba Mate from this neighboring tea giant.
History of Tea in Uruguay
Uruguay’s Mate dates back to pre-colonial time and the Guarani culture.
Other teas such as Black tea and Green tea have been introduced to Uruguay in the 17th century by the British.
Nevertheless, no other tea is as popular in Uruguay as the native Yerba Mate tea plant, sold in every single store around the country.
Tea Culture in Uruguay
People with thermoses and Mate gourds can be seen everywhere from public transportation to parks, beaches, town squares, celebrations, family gatherings, everywhere, at any time.
Mate is more than just a tea and the locals find it offensive when someone refers to their Mate as just a “bitter tea”.
Sharing a Mate gourd is the most common thing, resembling an old-time ritual.
Passing from hand to hand, the gourd is recharged with hot water over and over again.
Every person takes a few sips from the metal straw and then passes the gourd to the next one.
All households have a collection of Mate gourds and thermoses, providing a unique tea experience at all times.
Mate is more than having tea. It’s a ceremony about sharing, gratitude, closeness, and appreciation.