Don’t Touch the Bombilla
One of the biggest and first mistakes that new mate drinkers make is touching the bombilla. No. No. Nooo.. Never do that. I’ve seen people start mixing around the mate; pulling the bombilla in and out of the gourd; and all sorts of nonsense like that. I know.. it’s not your fault. You didn’t know. Just make sure to never do it again and especially not while drinking with an Argentine or Uruguayan.. they’ll rip your head off! Just sip the bombilla… never touch it with your hands.
Don’t Pass the Mate to the Person Next to You
Always pass the mate back to the server, never to the person next to you. That’s the servers job to prepare and pass the mate, not yours.
Never Complain About the Mate
Sometimes the mate will be too hot for you. Or perhaps it won’t be “just right” to your liking… maybe too bitter (amargo) or too sweet (dulce)… but just relax… take it easy… and try not to complain too much if you can prevent it. You’re better off just saying “Thank you” which, ironically, means that you don’t want anymore mate to drink. Mate isn’t about complaining and hassle… it’s about relaxation, fun, and good times with friends.
Don’t Take an Hour to Drink the Mate
From the perspective of a seasoned mate drinker (traditional method) it’s totally insane not to finish your mate within a reasonable amount of time. Two, maybe three minutes max is it. Keep the circle flowing along.
Don’t Slobber and Don’t Participate if You’re Sick
If you’re drinking mate the traditional method, it’s best not to touch the bombilla with your tounge;only use your lips while drawing up the infusion. And if you’re sick, politely decline to participate in the circle.
Don’t be Scared to Slurp!
It’s totally acceptable to slurp the mate at the end like you would upon finishing a cold beverage. It’s actually a sign of respect when you let everyone know, especially the server, that you really drunk the mate all the way to the end. So slurp away.
Say “Gracias” (or Thank You)
When you’ve had enough mate to drink, just say “Thanks.” I know…I know…for our North American culture that doesn’t really make sense.. We usually say “No Thanks.” But traditionally, participants of mate circles have said “Gracias” when they no longer want to drink mate. It’s a sign of respect.
When You First Meet Someone
When you first meet someone you can say “unos mates?” or in English, “want to drink a mate?” This is a sign of great respect. Then you may ask the person “how do you like it — bitter or sweet?” It’s polite to respond “como vos tomás” or “however you take it.”