Mate and terere are in many ways identical. They represent two different ways of preparing the same beverage.

In preparing mate hot water is used. Alternatively if terere is to be made cold, preferably iced water is needed.

The basis of the drink is yerba mate. This comes in the form of the crushed leaves and stems of a member of the holly family native to Paraguay. its scientific name is Ilex Paraguariensis and is also sometimes know as Paraguayan Tea.

The plant was known and used by the indigenous peoples of parts of Paraguay long before the colonial period.

Since then its use has spread far beyond its native area. First across the rest of Paraguay thanks to the Jesuit practice of gathering the peoples of the forests into planned settlements. A process that brought native cultures and traditions together blending them into a single Guarani identity. In doing so practices like drinking yerba soon spread throughout the community and country.

Then in post colonial times the practice has spread beyond borders of Paraguay. Firstly across much of Southern South America and then afterwards out into the world. It has become in recent times a popular beverage in parts of both the Middle East and the USA.

However and where ever it is drunk the basis ingredients remain the same. The yerba mate itself. A gourd or cup to place it in. A metal straw with a filtered end to drink it through and a flask to hold water.

The gourd is partially filled with yerba around the straw. Then a small quantity of water is added from the flask. The infusion created by the mixing of yerba and water can then be sucked up the straw and the process repeated.

This drink has very much become a part of the culture, much like cups of tea in England. Upon entering a house it is very often the first thing to be offered and would be impolite to refuse.

As for whether it will be in the form of terere or mate again depends on the country. Generally mate made with hot water is the preferred form.

Only in Paraguay from where yerba mate originated is the use of iced water to prepare terere the standard practice.

In many places across Southern South America mate is drunk with great regularity. From first thing in the morning, through the day and onto last thing at night.

So popular is it in both Argentina and Uruguay that the national football teams always travel with their supplies knowing it may not be available where they are heading.

In those countries hot mate is always to preference. Even in the height of summer a worker will take his break with a flask of hot water.

Only in Paraguay where it is hot most hours of most days does the urge for hot mate diminish. Here yerba is still drunk as mate but generally only first thing in the morning or at the end of the day.

At other times terere is the beverage. This is very much the national drink and is drunk in vast quantities by almost everyone young and old all across the country every day.

Every freezer contains bags of ice to chill the water and everyone has their flask and gourd. One of the most Paraguayan of souvenirs any visitor can leave the country with.

The flasks themselves are generally brightly decorated. Most often with cultural or natural scenes from across Paraguay or occasionally with adverts. Every businessman knows the very best way to get your brand noticed in Paraguay is to stick it on the side of a terere flask.

Everywhere you look in Paraguay you will see people drinking terere. They do so sitting in their houses and gardens, riding in cars and buses and just simply walking down the street.

It is one of the cultural glues that holds Paraguay together. It makes the people and the country what they are.

With such demand there are in Paraguay just as in Argentina and Uruguay many brands to choose from. Often a supermarket will have an aisle containing nothing but various yerba mates. And sometimes several aisles.

Each brand produces a number of different flavours. In these various plants and herbs are added to the yerba for flavouring or medicinal purposes.

Two of the most common are mint and lemon but more popular are the herbs that have for generations been collected from the countryside. Now these are cultivated and added directly to the yerba.

Those herbs and many more are still available in their natural form. Either collected by hand or purchased fresh from a market stall. Fresh herbs are not mixed with the dry yerba but are instead crushed and added to the iced water in the flask.

However it is consumed and what ever is or is not added to it the yerba provides a refreshing drink which can be drunk for a long as you wish to add water to it.

Whether it is served as hot mate or cold terere the resulting beverage is an important part of both the culture and lifestyle of the countries where it may be found.