Have you ever heard of tereré? The truth is that this infusion made from yerba mate is very typical in Paraguay, in fact there it is a cultural heritage of the nation, and is also widely consumed in northeastern Argentina and in the Brazilian Mato Grosso region.
So famous is the tereré in Paraguay that every last Saturday of February the National Day of the tereré is celebrated. Can you imagine having a specific day to celebrate the existence of a drink? This gives you an idea of the cultural importance of this infusion in the region.
Another curiosity? The tereré has been accepted by UNESCO as a candidate for World Heritage Site. We will have to be patient to see if he finally wins the candidacy or not.
Now, what is tereré really? Being made from the same grass, it is assumed that tereré is a kind of “cold mate”. The truth is that the story is not clear and it is not well known which of the two versions was born first.
Legend has it that the Guarani were the creators of mate, an infusion based on yerba mate that they drank inside an empty gourd to quench thirst. Later, its consumption spread through the same Jesuits who at first called it “the devil’s drink” and little by little, it became popular throughout southern Latin America.
Now, the million dollar question is: how was the tereré born? Speaking of legends, let’s go back to one that points out that the tereré was invented to prevent the yerba mate bosses from noticing that their workers were taking a break and consuming the yerba mate they were harvesting. Thus, instead of using the hot water necessary to infuse the yerba and prepare mate, they began to use cold water, giving rise to tereré.
In Paraguay, it is said that its creation is due to the soldiers who fought the Chaco War between 1932 and 1935 and who drank it as a way of filtering the cloudy water they had available.
Of course, over the years, the consumption of tereré was refined and, today, it is drunk with orange juice or with a wide variety of herbs with medicinal properties, such as mint, horsetail or lemon verbena
Properties of tereré
Tereré, like mate, has a series of interesting health benefits. For example, did you know that yerba mate has antioxidant properties? Antioxidants are molecules that fight against the damage that can be caused by free radicals, thus helping to prevent diseases and premature aging. Although it is true that antioxidants have a greater preponderance when infusing hot, they also make an appearance in tereré.
On the other hand, yerba mate is considered a good digestive and is usually recommended to those who suffer from constipation. Particularly, tereré prepared with orange juice would combine the action of the yerba mate with the laxative effect of the juice, generating an almost immediate effect.
By incorporating mint, tereré would become a good option to drink after large meals, taking advantage of the herb’s digestive action. So, depending on the herb you add to the drink, you can enjoy various properties:
- Cedrón: It is used in the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and also as a relaxant that helps reduce anxiety and combat insomnia.
- Horsetail: Natural medicine recommends it to aid in weight loss and to control cholesterol. However, the existing data is not conclusive.
- Batatilla: this tuber must be passed through the mortar to be able to incorporate it into the tereré and take advantage of its emollient effects.
- Kyllingia odorata (or Kapi’i katî, in Guaraní): this herb grows in humid areas of Paraguay and is said to help expel gas, in addition to having digestive activity.
How to prepare tereré at home?
As we told you in our basic mate guide, there are as many ways to prepare it as there are countries, regions and people. The same thing happens with tereré. Next, we will tell you how it is traditionally prepared in Paraguay and some ideas to vary its flavor.
Necessary ingredients and utensils
- 1 mate, gourd or guampa (preferably metal, ceramic or glass container).
- 1 jar.
- yerba mate for tereré, necessary amount.
- orange juice or fresh herbs (to your liking).
- water, amount needed.
- optional: mint leaves
Terere with orange juice
- The first step is to prepare the orange juice. To do this, use two or three fresh oranges (you can also use prepared juice, but the flavor will be different because you will be adding sugars to the cold infusion). Add ice to the juice so that it cools well.
- Place the yerba in the container, filling it about three quarters. It is best to tilt the mate so that there is a space between the wall of the mate and the yerba.
- Insert the light bulb into the space left between the wall and the grass.
- Pour the orange juice into the hole, let it absorb, and continue serving.
- If you wish, add a couple of mint leaves to your tereré. Enjoy!
In many cases, ice is also added to the mate, but this is optional.
Variations of tereré
The tereré can be drunk with water with the flavor of the herbs that you like the most. To do this, put mint, lemon verbena, horsetail or the herb of your choice in fresh water and let it rest so that the water takes its taste. Then, add ice and, when the water is very cold, use it to fatten your tereré. Mmmm, delicious and refreshing!
Tereré is a cold infusion that is drunk throughout the year, but preferably during the long summers of Paraguay, Brazil and northern Argentina. If you want to try it, wait until summer to appreciate its refreshing flavor.