11 Essential Words Related to the Mate Drink From Argentina

Picture of a person pouring water into a mate from a thermos. Next to the picture is the blog post title that reads: 11 Essential Words Related to the Mate Drink From Argentina

The mate drink from Argentina is more than just a beverage; it’s a cultural phenomenon that forms part of any Argentinian’s daily life. From social gatherings to moments of solitude, the mate ritual holds a special place in Argentinian hearts. 

As you explore the world of this iconic drink, understanding key terminology adds depth to your appreciation. In this blog post, we’ll delve into 11 essential words related to the mate, giving you insight into the nuances of this beloved tradition. But first, in case this is a new concept for you, let’s review what’s “el mate”. 

What Is the Mate Drink?

Marianela, our guest on the Easy Argentine Spanish Podcast and big mate enthusiast, explains it to perfection. Listen to the interview now to learn all the fundamentals of el mate drink from Argentina. Mar tells us everything we need to know about this beloved tradition to the last detail.

After listening to this episode, you’ll know what is mate, where it comes from, how to properly drink it, what to eat with it, and the don’ts of mate drinking. Don’t miss out!

I had so much fun doing this interview! And I hope you enjoyed it too. If you’d like some help understanding the full conversation, make sure to join my Podcast membership. Click here to learn more. 

Additionally, follow @profelemar for more of Marianela. 

11 Essential Words Related to “El Mate”

1. Mate:

Firstly, let’s start with the basics. “Mate” refers to the actual gourd or cup used to drink the infused beverage. Oftentimes, it’s made from a hollowed-out calabash gourd or other materials, and it serves as the vessel for enjoying mate.

2. Bombilla:

Secondly, the “bombilla” is the metal straw used to sip the mate. It has a filter at the bottom to strain out the loose yerba leaves, allowing you to enjoy the infused liquid without the leaves passing through. When mate is passed around, everyone uses the same bombilla.

3. Yerba Mate:

Thirdly, “yerba mate” is the actual leaves used to make the mate drink. These leaves are dried, chopped, and ground, creating the foundation for the flavorful infusion.

4. Cebador/a:

The “cebador” is the person who prepares and serves the mate in a group setting. This role involves carefully arranging the yerba mate leaves, adding hot water, and passing the mate around. On top of that, “el cebador” or “la cebadora” makes sure everyone in the “ronda” has the chance to drink the mate. 

5. Cebar:

“Cebar” is the verb used to describe the act of preparing and serving the mate. When someone says, “Voy a cebar mate,” it means they are going to prepare and serve the mate to others.

6. Amargo:

“Amargo” means bitter in Spanish, and it’s used to describe the traditional preparation of mate, where no sweeteners are added. In general, Argentinians prefer their mate “amargo” to fully savor the natural flavors. However, some prefer it sweet or “dulce”. The opposite of “un mate amargo” is “un mate dulce,” which is generally a mate with sugar. Some people consider it a sin to add sugar to the mate. 

7. Mateada:

“Mateada” refers to a social gathering or a casual get-together where people come together to share mate. It’s a time for conversation, connection, and enjoying the camaraderie that mate brings. Oftentimes, Argentinians sit in a circle to enjoy the mateada. This is known as “la ronda del mate.” 

8. Tereré:

While mate is typically enjoyed hot, “tereré” is a cold version of the drink. It’s especially popular in Paraguay and some regions of Argentina, and it involves infusing the yerba mate with cold water or juice.

9. Pava

“Pava” is the kettle used to warm up the water for mate. When an Argentinian says “pongo la pava,” it means they’re preparing water to start making mate.  

10. Termo

El termo is a thermos, an insulated container used to keep the water hot. Generally speaking, Argentinians use the “termo” both at home and when they’re planning to drink mate outdoors. 

11. Ronda de Mate:

A “ronda de mate” is a round of mate, where the mate is passed around a group of people sitting in a circle. This communal experience is an essential aspect of the mate-drinking tradition, fostering connections and conversations.


Exploring the vocabulary related to the mate drink from Argentina opens the door to a rich cultural experience. From the mate itself to the bombilla, yerba mate, and the roles of cebador and matero, these words offer insights into the customs and nuances of this beloved ritual. 

Whether you’re enjoying a “mateada” with friends, sipping “mate amargo,” or exploring the world of “tereré,” understanding these essential words adds depth to your understanding and appreciation of this iconic Argentinian tradition.

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¡Hola! Soy Melany

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I’m so happy you’re here! My name is Melany and I help language learners speak Argentine Spanish. I primarily teach Argentine slang and idioms, how to sound more natural and to speak Spanish with confidence.

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