The history of yerba mate begins on the lands that we know today as Paraguay, and to this day this country is one of the largest consumers of mate. Wars and economically tough times prevented Paraguay from becoming the largest producer of yerba mate, but that doesn’t mean that there are no brands that make quality yerba for us to enjoy.
Paraguayans have their own twist on yerba mate that makes it very distinguishable and unique. Usually, Paraguayan yerba mate is dried and aged differently than Argentine or Brazilian varieties, which results in more smoky and funky combination of flavors. The reason behind that is simple — temperatures in Paraguay in the summer sometimes reach 40 to 45 °C (104 to 113 °F), so tereré is the most popular yerba mate infusion there. Cold water doesn’t bring out flavors from herb as good as hot water, so Paraguayan yerba mate manufacturers usually make flavors more pronounced so the tereré would not be tasteless.
On the streets of Paraguayan cities you can often see another distinctive cultural thing — people carrying fancy matera and guampa. Historically, the cattle horns were used as a vessel for tereré, and even though today, more vessels are made from metal than real horns for practical purposes, the bended shape of guampa still serves as a tribute to the origins of yerba mate in Paraguay and plays a role in cultural self-identification of this country in context of yerba mate world.