Tereré or tererê is a typical South American drink made with the infusion of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in cold water. Of guarani origin, it can be consumed with lemon, mint, among others.
It is a drink prepared with yerba mate and cold water, or even cold lemon juice. This is one of the drinks prepared with yerba mate and there are several interesting health benefits of tereré. From more energy for the body, to benefits for weight loss and skin, the applications are many. For these and other reasons the drink has become increasingly known in Brazil and the world.
Although the typical drink in southern Brazil is chimarrão, which is another version of the preparation of yerba mate, there too tereré has won its consumers. This is due, among other reasons, to the heat it makes in the region during the summer. In order not to stop having a drink with hot water during this season, people can opt for frozen tereré. After all, in the heat of more than 35 ºC that it makes during the summer, it is not such a good option to take the chimarrão with its hot water at approximately 70 ºC.
Thus, it is possible to say that this ice cream matte, as the name indicates, is a great way to refresh yourself in the heat. However, for its preparation are utensils different from the traditional chimarrão that are used.
There are several hypotheses that seek to explain the origin of the tereré:
- It was before the European colonization promoted by Spaniards and Portuguese in the territory that today includes Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraguay and Argentina. It would have been invented by the Guarani peoples (both Guarani nhandevas and Guarani caiouás) and by Chaquine ethnic groups. According to this hypothesis, the tereré would have been consumed by the Guarani Indians since times before the European invasion of America, and by the 17th century the Jesuits would have learned from them the virtues of the mate (ka’a in Guaraní). The Jesuits praised the effects of grass, which gave strength and vigor and killed thirst more than pure water. The infusion is very rich in caffeine, hence its invigorating power. According to some, the Guarani Indians, besides taking mate (or tereré) using, as a bombilho (straw to suck the infusion), bird bones and thin taquaras (because there were no metal pumps yet), also smoked the raw leaf of yerba mate and used it as snuff.
- It would have been invented during the Chaco War (1932-1935), when the troops would have begun to drink the cold, and no longer hot, maté infusion, in order not to light fires that would denounce their position, this possibly in the region of Ponta Porã, in Mato Grosso do Sul, which at the time belonged to Paraguay.
- It would have been invented by mensú (slaves used in the harvest of yerba mate in Paraguay and Argentina that existed until the middle of the 20th century). They would have been surprised by goons making fire to take mate and would then be brutally tortured. To avoid the torture, they would have chosen to enlist in ranks of the Paraguayan army, introducing then this custom in the army.
- The indigenous people, when taking the cattle from one place to another in entourage, would use the grass to strain the water from the rivers that was drunk by them, in order to avoid schistosomiasis.
The Legend of the Origin of Yerba Mate
One of the legends of its origin refers to one of Christ’s passages through the American land. Jesus, Peter and John, tired and hungry, arrived at a stream where an old man who had been broken down by the years, but a philosopher and human by experience, received them. He shelters them, gives them a drink and prepares them a tasty food with his last chicken. The three of them stand up and start the walk again.
Christ, wishing to mark his gratitude to goodness, humanity and brotherhood, addressed the elderly host and told him that his deceased daughter, so beautiful and dear, would be reborn into a green, full-bodied bush with vigorous, life-giving, tasty and restorative leaves and would keep vitality, disposition, health, friendship and hope forever. A few months later, she, the unique daughter of the buried old rancher, resurfaces from the earth in the form of a herb.
Guampa and Pump
Traditionally, the container used to serve the tereré is the guampa, manufactured with part of a bovine horn, with one of its ends sealed with wood or oxskin, and all its exterior covered with varnish. It also uses an aluminum or glass cup, or dishwasher mugs. In Paraguay, the tereré container is usually made of ox horn and sometimes adorned with silver or other metal. It is also made of palosanto (Bulnesia sarmientoi) “mattes” (containers for taking mate). In Paraguay, guampas are made entirely of silver and gold with some handmade inlays, but now many people choose to buy wood or leather guampas, totally covered with aluminum, with modern styles, personalized colors, logos, images and texts. There are also plastic guampas.
The word “guampa”, despite being in Spanish spelling and being used in an area where the predominant influence is Guarani, is of Quechua origin and precisely means “horn”. The bovine horn is often used as a container throughout the Southern Cone. For example: the horn (a kind of canteen or caramañola) is made of ox guampa.
To drink the tereré, a metal bulb, called a pump, is used, which is inserted into the container filled with grass. The pump is used to filter the infusion of tereré, so that the powder from the grass is not absorbed. These are usually made of aluminum, and should never be made of iron because of oxidation, which alters the taste of the infusion. It is also possible to find pumps made of gold, silver, alpaca and stainless steel. Both the pump and the guampa can have props with figures of the family symbols, initials of name or precious stones.
Because the yerba maté leaves are cut thick, unlike chimarrão, the tereré does not have so many problems with clogging. When this occurs, it is usually due to a large amount of matte powder, indicating poor quality of the grass used.
As for the liquid to be used for infusion, the most popular in Paraguay and also in Brazil is cold water and, optionally, lemon drops, or even fruit juice. In Paraguay, herbs and medicinal plants are usually added to the water. Other combinations are also possible, but not indicated by more traditional consumers.
- Add the grass in the guampa or cup, so that it reaches ¾ of the volume;
- Pour the guampo 45º, leaving the herb in only one side of the container;
- Wet the herb with a little water, so that it is swollen. Continue with the cup inclined during this step, which should last from 30 seconds to one minute;
- Pour cold water, place the pump in the guampa or cup and serve yourself.
Remembering that the tereré can be served with water, lemon juice or other options as well. And an important observation: never pour the water on top of the grass. If you do, it is possible that a clogging of the pump will happen.
Variety of Flavors
The tereré is always prepared with yerba maté, however, there are some options, with different characteristics:
- Traditional fine grinding: more similar to the grass used for chimarrão, fine, with little or no remnants of twigs and leaves, its bitterness is accentuated;
- thick criollo yerba maté: mixes powder, leaves and crushed twigs, offers an intense flavor of the plant;
- compound herbs: yerba maté is mixed with other natural herbs such as: fennel, mint and boldo;
- Yerba maté with flavors: addition of some other taste to Yerba maté, artificial or natural. Some examples are: lemon, tutti-frutti, mint and cinnamon.
Culture & Customs
The tereré drink, as well as all aspects related to it, is a tradition practically inherent to Paraguay, but there are regional variations on its preparation and forms of consumption. Usually, it is consumed in rodas de amigos at the end of the afternoon and everyone shares the same guampa. The expressions “téres”, “téras”, “téra” or “téro” are very often used instead of “tereré”, in a natural apoplectic process through which some words pass.
The tereré is still traditional in South American countries such as Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, besides Brazil. Around here, the drink is quite common in the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, however, it is in the Midwest that its consumption becomes practically a ritual, involving rules of good manners.
Especially in Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, families and friends usually get together to fraternize and share the tereré. In these moments, the drink is served in a single guampa shared by all. The older ones are served by the younger ones, and if someone doesn’t want to drink or is going to stop drinking, he should thank them so that everyone can hear.
The tereré drink is a tradition inherent to Paraguay, but there are regional variations on its preparation and forms of consumption. In Paraguay, tereré has a traditional, medicinal and even ceremonial meaning. It is a symbol of friendship. The tereré with refreshing medicines is ingested in the morning; already the tereré of the afternoon is swallowed without any addition.
In the provinces of northeastern Argentina (border with Paraguay), it is very common to see people drinking tereré. This can be seen especially in Formosa, Chaco, Corrientes, Misiones and, to a lesser extent, in the north of the province of Santa Fe.
In Uruguay, tereré is more consumed in the east of the country.
In Brazil, the tereré was brought by Paraguayans, who entered the country through the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and then spread to other parts of it. Due to its proximity to Paraguay, the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul are the greatest appreciators of the mate ice cream.
Because of the inter-regional migration, one can observe the habit in some other states, notably in Goiás, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, São Paulo (west of the state), Rondônia and also in Acre. And it has a consumption as old as in the country of origin, being the drink consumed mainly in the following states (the main ones are border states):
Mato Grosso Do Sul
Mato Grosso do Sul was the first state in Brazil to know the drink, being taken by Paraguayans and Guaraní Kaiowás Indians, who came to belong to the country when the new definition of the border between Brazil and Paraguay was made, putting lots of native herbs to Brazil. And also every Brazilian cycle of the tereré herb started in the city of Ponta Porã, which borders Pedro Juan Caballero, a Paraguayan city; then it expanded to other cities and states. And there is also the fact that Ponta Porã, when it discovered the tereré, was still Paraguayan territory.
In Mato Grosso do Sul, it is consumed at all times, being a drink appreciated by everyone, from children to older people. The state is until today the biggest producer of yerba maté outside the South Region of Brazil.
The drink brings young people very close, because it is very common to see, in the cities of the state, on Saturdays and Sundays afternoons, young people’s rodas consuming the tereré and speaking several subjects: sport, politics, television, among others. A very well known herb is the Erva Mate Kurupi, of Paraguayan origin, but it has a factory in the city of Dourados.
Another renowned brand that produces tereré grass in the state is Campanário, based in the city of Naviraí that resells its production to other states in Brazil.
Paraná is the largest producer of yerba mate in Brazil, since the western region of the state had, during the Spanish and Portuguese colonizations, undefined borders – one example is the city of Foz do Iguaçu, which had its waterfalls discovered by a Spanish explorer.
In the state there are several tereré mate factories, all of them small with resale in the region.
Mato Grosso knew the drink mainly because it held the territory of the current Mato Grosso do Sul. This habit can be observed in Cáceres, Pontes e Lacerda, Lucas do Rio Verde, Guiratinga, Primavera do Leste, Sorriso, Rondonópolis, Barra do Bugres and Barra do Garças.
It is also consumed in the Central Plateau, considered a typical drink of the Midwest Region of Brazil.
Rio Grande do Sul
In Rio Grande do Sul, the tereré is widely consumed in the north, northwest and northeast of the state, areas close to Paraguay. It is also consumed in Porto Alegre and on the coast, in the summer period due to the heat.
It is consumed throughout the state, especially in the western region (for being near Paraguay).
More consumed in the interior, mainly near the border with Mato Grosso do Sul, in the regions of Dracena, Presidente Prudente, Fernandópolis and Araçatuba, São José do Rio Preto.
Very consumed in the southwest of the state.
The then Federal Territory of Rondônia was dismembered from Mato Grosso, from which it received a lot of cultural influence, and one of them was precisely the tereré.
As in Rondônia, tereré is also very common among Acrians throughout the state, especially in the capital Rio Branco.
Chimarrão x tereré
Both drinks are prepared with the same yerba mate, in similar containers – the gourd for the chimarrão and the guampa for the tereré – and taken using the same type of pump (utensil to filter and suck the infusion). However, there is a big difference between them: the temperature.
While the chimarrão is made with the grass in hot water – quite favorable for cold regions – the tereré is prepared in cold or cold water. This makes it an extremely refreshing drink, ideal for the heat.
Another difference is that the grass for the chimarrão is ground, while the grass used in the tereré is just crushed, which gives a smoother taste. In its production, the mate grass used in the preparation of tereré differs from chimarrão because it has to be left to rest for about eight months, in a dry place, and be crushed thick afterwards.
Tereré In Health
Medicinal and Nutritional Properties
Analyses and studies on yerba maté have revealed a composition that identifies several beneficial properties to the human being, because they are contained in the leaves of yerba maté, alkaloids (caffeine, theophylline, theobromine, etc.). ), folic and caffeic acids (tannins), vitamins (A, B1, B2, C, and E), mineral salts (aluminum, iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium), proteins (essential amino acids), glycides (fructose, glucose, sucrose, etc.), lipids (essential oils and metals), in addition to cellulose, dextrin, saccharine and gums.
It also contains saponin, which is one of the components of testosterone, which is why it improves the libido. It is also considered an excellent skin remedy and regulator of cardiac and respiratory functions, besides playing an important role in cellular regeneration. Thus, the researchers concluded that mate contains practically all the necessary vitamins to sustain life, and that mate herb is an undeniably special plant, since it is very difficult to find anywhere in the world another plant that equals its nutritional value.
- It is Digestive and a moderate diuretic
- Stimulating physical and mental activities
- Auxiliary in cellular regeneration
- Eliminates fatigue
- Contains vitamins – A, B1, B2, C and E
- It is rich in mineral salts such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and manganese
- It is a natural stimulant that has no contraindications
- It is a vasodilator: it acts on the circulation, accelerating the heartbeat
- Helps fight bad cholesterol (LDL) thanks to its antioxidant action
- For being stimulating, it also has aphrodisiac powers, thanks to the vitamin E present in yerba mate
- It is rich in flavonoids (plant antioxidants) that protect cells and prevent premature aging, having a longer lasting effect due to the special way it is taken.
- According to the research doctor Oly Schwingel, the use of yerba maté is indicated from two to three times a day
- Prevents osteoporosis, strengthening the bone structure thanks to the calcium and vitamins contained in yerba mate
- Contributes to the stability of drop symptoms (excess uric acid in the body)
- It is rich in fibers that contribute to the good functioning of the intestine
- Auxiliary in slimming diets
- Acts beneficially on nerves and muscles
- Regulator of cardiac and respiratory functions
- According to the Pasteur Institute of France and the Scientific Society of Paris, yerba maté contains practically all the vitamins essential to the maintenance of human life
The first problem that can be observed with tereré consumption is in people with anemia. This happens because yerba mate causes a decrease in iron absorption by the human body.
Then, we can also cite precisely the issue of metabolism acceleration due to the presence of caffeine and other compounds. Unfortunately when there is a high consumption there is an increase in blood pressure. Thus, the drink should be avoided by those people who have hypertension.
Still as a side effect of caffeine, there are people who even have insomnia when they consume tereré after a certain time of the night. To avoid this problem, it is interesting not to take the tereré during the night.
Finally, it is necessary to mention that pregnant women should avoid drinking yerba mate. This is because the herb has several anti-inflammatory drugs, and the ingestion of these compounds can harm the child, both during pregnancy and at birth. Therefore, the ideal is to avoid mate and chimarrão as much as possible during the 9 months of pregnancy.
Last Saturday of February is celebrated the World Tereré Day, date created in 2010 in Paraguay.
Tereré As Official Simbolo
Since 2011 the tereré is an intangible cultural symbol of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
Tereré In Popular Culture
A very common popular saying, especially in the extreme south of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, is “The chimarrão is only good when it brings warmth to our hearts. Tereré does not solve it”. In the 1930 Revolution, a popular in Rio de Janeiro heard this saying from the mouths of gaudérios camped in the Obelisco of Rio Branco Avenue and passed it on, and it reached the ears of a local composer: in this way, the “Tereré” march was a success in the 1931 Carioca Carnival. In 1938, the Brazilian musical comedy film “Tereré Não Resolve” was released, directed and written by Luiz de Barros, inspired by the carnival marchinha.