The tealike beverage is a favorite Argentinean tradition (even Pope Francis loves it), but it comes with a set of unwritten rules. Juan Carlos Cremona, owner of La Martina de Areco (54-23/2645-5011), a café in San Antonio de Areco, outside Buenos Aires, explains the ritual.
1. In groups, a cebador (leader) is chosen to serve everyone. He or she heats water to just below the boiling point, then pours it into a flask.
2. The gourd—a dried squash or a wood-lined metal goblet—holds the ground yerba maté leaves. Purists use a sieve to remove twigs.
3. The cebador moistens the grounds to release the flavor, inserts a bombilla (straw), adds more water, and passes the gourd to the first drinker.
4. On your turn, sip with gusto. Some add sugar or honey, but real gauchos take it amargo—bitter. When done, say “gracias” and pass it along.
5. Hungry? Locals often enjoy their maté with galletas dulces (sweet pastries).