A cold version of chimarrão from Mato Grosso.

Tereré is a tea that is a combination of yerba mate and cold water or fruit juice mixed with mint, lemongrass, or other herbs. Tereré is not just a tea, but also an extremely social drink in Paraguay, northern Argentina, and southern Brazil. Tereré originally comes from Paraguay and is a variation of yerba mate, which is a popular hot tea drink from Argentina, except that Tereré is ice cold, which fits the extremely hot temperatures of Paraguay (O’Neil p.1).

In Paraguay, Tereré is considered better than mate and it is more a part of the country’s culture. Tereré was first invented by Guarani people in Paraguay and southern Brazil in an area that used to be part of Paraguay before Brazil took the land during the Triple Alliance War. Historically, the drink is very social as it is taken by groups of people sharing the same cup, which is called a “guampa” or a “cuia”. In Paraguay, a person of any class is usually not found without their Tereré gear, such as the “guampa”, the “bombilla”, which is the filtered straw used to drink the beverage, and the “termo”, which holds the cold water and keeps it cold. In more rural areas, a pitcher is commonly used to hold the cold water (O’Neil p. 1).

Tereré is prepared by putting mate leaves in the “guampa” until it is a third or half full. Then ice cubes, and possibly fruit, sugar, and herbs are mixed together and added to the cup followed by water. In some cases, fruit juices are added instead of water and this is called “Tereré Ruso” or Russian Tereré because this practice is more common among the Slavic immigrants in Paraguay and northern Argentina than it is among Paraguayan people. Some people even make Tereré with beer or Coca-Cola. The straw is then put into the cup, and it is passed around a group of people, while they relax and talk (O’Neil p. 1).

The serving of the tea is also very important in Paraguayan culture. The group of people usually sits in a circle and the youngest person serves the Tereré. Everyone uses the same straw, but liquid is not shared, as each person finishes a cup and then more water is added. The “bombilla” is placed in the cup so as to not make the drink too bitter and moving the straw around will move the leaves and make the tea much stronger and bitterer (O’Neil p. 1-3).

The mate in Tereré contains many chemicals including caffeine, theobromine, and phenolic compounds. These chemicals are cardiac stimulants and contain antioxidants, therefore can help in the prevention of cancer and stroke. Tereré is a healthy drink if not consumed excessively. The tealeaves are naturally caffeinated and have other health benefits such as help with digestion and cardiovascular health. The mate leaves, also known by their scientific name Ilex paraguariensis, are currently being studied to see if they have a potential for anti-diabetic treatments (“Methylxanthines” p. 1-2).



Lexicographer: David Andersen, Tulane University



Works Cited

"Methylxanthines and Phenolics Content Extracted during the Consumption of Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis St. Hil) Beverages." Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (2010): n. pag. Print.

O'Neil, Lorena. "Tereré: Paraguay's Social Tea." Ozymandias. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.