"Mate is not only about friendship and conversation; it is also a way to build connections with strangers. It is an open invitation to engage with someone new."
~ Julia Sarreal
Yerba mate, known as the drink of friendship, is deeply woven into South American culture. It is said to transcend barriers, providing commonality and a sense of unity across social classes. Made from a species of holly known by botanists as llex paraguariensis, the leaves are dried, typically over a fire and steeped in water to create the energizing drink. Once a symbol of gaucho hospitality, yerba mate continues to be widely consumed in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay where it is valued for its ability to increase metabolism and reduce hunger. The traditional way of drinking this caffeinated beverage is through a bombilla, a perforated straw, while cradling it in a mate, a traditional gourd. The gourd is typically passed and shared among friends and strangers alike making drinking yerba mate a communal, rather than solitary, experience.