Yerba Maté is the national drink in Uruguay and Argentina and a common social practice in Paraguay and parts of Chile, Brazil, Lebanon, and Syria.
Yerba Maté is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. The straw is called a bombilla in Spanish, a bomba in Portuguese, and a masassa in Arabic and it is traditionally made of silver. The gourd is known as a maté or a guampa, while in Brazil it has the specific name of cuia. Even if the water comes in a very modern thermos, the infusion is traditionally drunk from matés or cuias. However, “tea-bag” type infusions of maté (maté cocido) have been on the market in Argentina for many years under such trade names as “Cruz de Malta” (Maltese Cross) and in Brazil under the name “Maté Leão” (Lion Maté).
As with other brewed herbs, yerba maté leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a rough powdery mixture called yerba. The bombilla acts as both a straw and a sieve. The submerged end is flared, with small holes or slots that allow the brewed liquid in, but block the chunky matter that makes up much of the mixture.