The Lowdown on Yerba Mate Gourds Posted on 13 Jan 10:25 , 2 comments

The yerba mate gourd is a striking balance of contrasts. The warm, round gourd nearly overflows with froth. The metal straw juts out, inviting you to share. 

Yerba mate is a versatile herb. You can brew it a thousand ways. But for me, the yerba mate gourd is the beginning and end of all things yerba.

Yes, the yerba mate gourd requires attention and skill. But if you are open to its magic, the gourd can be a great teacher. It can help you slow down and connect.

Here are some tips to help you on your way: 

Prepare Your Yerba Mate Gourd for Use

Before you enjoy your yerba mate gourd for the first time, it is essential that you cure it. This 48 hour process prepares the gourd for daily use. Our fire gourds come with instruction cards inside, so this information is also available to anyone you may wish to send a gift pack to:

  1. Fill the gourd with loose yerba mate.
  2. Top off the gourd with hot water.
  3. Let the gourd sit for 24 hours.
  4. Empty the yerba mate into your compost and rinse the gourd.
  5. Using a small teaspoon, thoroughly scrape the soft, pulpy gourd material from the inside of the gourd. 
  6. Repeat this process a second time.
  7. Now your gourd is ready for use!

Enjoy and Share Your Yerba Mate Gourd! 

It is traditional to share a yerba mate gourd with a circle of friends and family. If you are drinking one all by yourself, I'd really suggest you take it slow and eat a little snack too, or drink some water along the way. This is a strong brew!

You will need a thermos, some loose yerba mate, a tea straw, and a gourd. It’s easy if you take it slow...

  • First, fill a thermos with hot (but not boiling) water.
  • Next, fill your gourd about ⅔ with loose yerba mate.
  • Tap the yerba mate to one side of the gourd to create a “little mountain” and a “little valley” inside.
  • Moisten the “little valley” with cool water. Just a splash. Don’t flood the “little mountain.”
  • Gently insert the filter tip of the tea straw into the “little valley.”
  • Pour hot water into the “little valley” about halfway up the gourd, still keeping the tip of the “little mountain” dry.
  • Sip this first pour right away. Make sure the tea straw is flowing well. Make sure the water is the right temperature. Drink until there is no more water left in the gourd.
  • Now you are ready to pour sips for the friends and family in your yerba mate circle. Each person receives a half-full gourd. They sip right away, drinking all of the liquid until the straw gurgles. Then they pass the gourd back to the pourer for refilling.
  • Traditionally, only one person does all the pouring for the group. This person is called the “cebador.” She will keep pouring for each person in turn until the hot water runs out or the herb runs out of flavor, then replace as needed.
  • Please avoid touching the straw! Stirring makes all the herb steep at once, and it can also make the straw clog. One of the cebador’s most difficult jobs is to gracefully discourage newcomers to the yerba mate circle from touching the straw.   

Take Care of Your Yerba Mate Gourd

Remember that your gourd was once a living plant. It is not made of plastic, and it will not last forever. This is a good thing. However, there are steps you can take to increase your gourd's longevity.

  1. Allow your gourd to dry out between uses. This will help prevent mold and splitting.
  2. Never use soap on a gourd. It will taste soapy forever after.
  3. Yerba mate naturally oxidizes to a deep, inky green-black color. The inner walls of your gourd will soon stain this color. Don't worry, this is not mold. 
  4. If you live in a humid climate, and your gourd never seems to dry out, try popping it into the toaster oven every once in a while, on its lowest setting, for twenty minutes or so. This ought to do the trick!

Please visit our Yerba Mate Gear page to shop for a great selection of yerba mate gourds and tea straws (aka bombillas).