Mate Terms and Glossary



“Mate Armargo” means mate with no additives such as sugar, liquid sugar, agave, lemon, etc… It’s just straight up mate! This allows you to appreciate the natural bitter and sweet flavors of the mate.


This is a common type of wood, also called carob, use to make reddish-brown mate gourds in Argentina.



This is the metal straw with a filter on the end used to traditionally drink mate out of the gourd. They come in different sizes and shape—long, short, curved. I personally prefer the bombillas with the spiral filter on the bottom as it helps to prevent yerba from entering my mouth. Most people here in Argentina use a curved bombilla with small holes at the end of a flattened straw.



A or coarse grind cut, of freshly dried yerba mate leaves and tender stems are prepared for aging after the first milling.


The person who prepares and serves the mate. Each time someone is finished with their mate, in a traditional mate circle, the gourd is passed back directly to the cebador (server); then he, and only he, passes the mate on to the next person.

Chimarrão (pronounced she-ma-HOWN)  

Mate amargo (bitter), without sugar. Simple, natural mate. Aka erva mate (pronounced erva-MATCH). Yerba mate grown in Brazil for local population. No aging, so mate retains bright green hue. Usually mildly malty and nutty tasting, with medium/light body. Calming effects.


I invented this term to express the amount of time it takes for the mate to become lavado (washed), and lose its taste. It also means the “turn” of mate; for instance, the server will take 1-2 cycles alone to test the mate, before passing it to his or her first guest.



This means “mate without stems.” It’s synonymous with “sin palos.”


“Mate Dulce” means that the cebador (server) has added sugar to the mate. The sugar is usually added before the hot water is added.

Dummy Water

The cold or room-temperature water that’s added to the yerba, and allowed to absorb for up to 1 min., before adding the hot water.



“Gaucho Mate” is, more or less, what we would call “Cowboy Coffee” in the States, but, of course, with mate. It’s usually very strong, intense mate that’s typical of Southern Brazil and Uruguay. Galaxy is a good example of Gaucho yerba mate.


Hollowed and dried calabash (in squash family) gourd to drink yerba mate out of. It’s is also know as “mate” in Argentina and Uruguay.


Traditionally in Argentina and Uruguay, you say “gracias” when you no longer want to drink the mate as the cebador hands you the gourd.

“Green-teaing” (or “teaing”)

I created this term to signify the transition that is made from a strong, well-balanced mate, entering into a watery, green-tea like taste profile. Some people absolutely love this transition and others meet it with rage: “the yerba is lavado!..change it!” Depending on the yerba, this “green-teaing” phase is quite pleasant—especially if you’re a fan of green tea!



This means that the mate has become watery and flat after so many cycles of sharing the gourd. It’s now time for the cebador to make a fresh mate with entirely new yerba and water. You can say “the mate is lavado (washed)”

Long Cycle

This means that the mate is strong enough to hold its flavor after several cycles.


Mate está vivo? Se deja tomar?

This translates to a friendly way of asking: Is the mate still drinkable.


The experience of drinking mate and smoking marijuana. The combined herbs display a very unique and powerful symbiotic effect on the mind and body. I coined this term to represent such a marriage of powerful plants and the profound experience that follows.

Mate Yuyos (pronounced SHOE-shows)

Mate that contains various herbs from the mountains — peppermint, cilantro, mint, chamomile, etc..


I invented this word in 2011 to encompass the various sorts of mate tools and utensils, i.e., bombillas, gourds, kettles, etc..



Small white twigs that are included in the mate to enhance it’s flavor—makes the mate sweeter and smoother in my experiences.

Circle of Drink’s Palo Rating System (PRS)

This is a 20-point rating system between four categories, determining: Cut, Body/Texture, Nose, Finish, Cycle. The total of each category (each out of 5 palos) is divided by 20 and the result is the mate’s grade. Some mate’s may have a great cycle, but lack taste or have a bad cut, and vice versa; this system was designed to judge the overall experience of the mate, not just one single element.

Palo-to-Polvo-to-Leaf Ratio (PPL Ratio)

I invented this ratio to express how balanced a yerba mate cut is — are the leaves, palos, and polvo in harmony? Of course, any good mate will always have significantly more leaves than palos, and even more than polvo (dust). However, too much polvo, or not enough — as well as too many palos, or not enough — can be the death of a mate. However, this ratio doesn’t work well with “Gaucho” mate, which usually never has palos and includes more polvo than traditional yerba.

Palo Santo — “Holy Stick”

This is a common wood used to make wooden mate gourds. It has a very sweet and smokey scent, and often imparts of pine-like taste to the mate. This is one of the most dense woods in the world, found commonly in the Argentina-Paraguay-Boliva border. The resin is said to have skin healing properties. Its scientific name is: Bulnesia sarmientoi.

Polvo (Powder)

This is dust that’s contained in most mates — some companies remove it altogether. This dust is extremely important to give the mate a strong, well-balanced taste profile. It helps hold the mate together and increases the mate’s life cycle (less lavado, or washed). A good mate won’t have too much polvo, which can overwhelm the herb, but just enough.


Short Cycle

The mate will be short-lived and become “lavado” faster. Then you’ll need to dump everything out of the gourd, prepare more hot water, and add in new mate.

Sin Palos

Without palos (twigs). Mate may be harsher without them.

Splinter Palos

Palos the size of splinters that are either straight and sharp or string-like. These palos are very dangerous and problematic; due to their extremely thin diameter they are able to pass through the bombilla’s filter and enter your stomach, causing irritation or more serious problems.


Tapado “El mate está tapado”

This is when the bombilla becomes clogged (tapado). It translates to: “The bombilla is plugged.”

This yerba mate glossary is copyright of Circle of Drink, ©2018. All rights reserved.

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