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Tereré (of Guaraní origin) is an infusion of yerba mate (in Spanish) / erva-mate (in Portuguese), similar to mate but prepared with cold water rather than with hot, and in a slightly larger vessel. It is originally from Paraguay, and is found also in northeastern Argentina and southern and western Brazil. When hot (mate), the Guaraní people call this infusion ka'ay, where ka'a means herb and y means water. The scientific name of yerba mate is Ilex paraguariensis.
The vast majority of people in Paraguay take their tereré with water-infused herbs such as mint "menta-i" or lemongrass. When not prepared with plain cold water, citrus fruit juices are usually used, although this practice varies depending on the region. While mixing fruit juices with tereré is common in northeastern Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, Lime and orange juices are used in Argentina and Paraguay; lime and pineapple juice are more common in Brazil. Tereré taken with juice is commonly called "tereré ruso" (Russian tereré) because this practice is more common with Slavic immigrants in the southeast of Paraguay and northeast of Argentina, than with Spanish- and Guaraní-speaking Paraguayan people.
In some parts of Argentina, tereré is seen as a lesser form of mate, and its drinking hardly ever follows the traditional drinking mate ritual. In Paraguay, by contrast, tereré is considered preferable to mate on a hot day.
First invented by the Guaraní natives who lived in Paraguay and western Brazil (Mato Grosso do Sul) territory that used to belong to Paraguay before the war of the Triple Alliance, Tereré was spread by the dwellers of that region, and for centuries was a social beverage. People usually prepare one jar of natural water and a "guampa" (Spanish and Portuguese) with a "bombilla" (Spanish) / "bomba" (Portuguese) which is shared among the group of people. Since Paraguay and Mato Grosso do Sul have a very hot climate, this drink is excellent to refresh the body and can be considered a very low-calorie, non-alcoholic beverage. Additionally, it is an important ritual signifying trust and communion.
Guampas are drinking vessels that can be made from animal horns, usually made from ox horns. The new guampa or the one not used for some time needs to be watered before use, because the lower part of the guampa is usually capped with a round piece of leather. By filling the guampa with water the leather expands, covering all leaks in the guampa. Many guampas are capped using a wooden cork as well. Guampas are also made from wood and covered in leather or steel. In central Argentina, it is common practice to drink terere from a small metal cup, as these receptacles don't absorb and retain fruit juice and are easier to clean.
Bombillas/Bombas are metal straws with a filter at the end. Erva-mate/Yerba is placed at the bottom of the guampa, and as water is added, the drinker sucks the clear green liquid through the Bombilla/Bomba.
Tereré in Paraguay and Brazil
Tereré is a typical drink from Paraguay and certain regions of Brazil. It is very popular among young and old people. It is common to see students going to school with a guampa and their thermos underneath their arms filled with plenty of ice and water, for summer temperatures can reach 40° to 45°C (104° to 113°F).
Most preparations of Tereré begin by filling a cured yerba mate gourd, guampa, or cup 1/3 to 1/2 full of yerba mate. Then, ice cubes, fruit, sweeteners, and/or herbs are added. The drinking vessel is then filled with juice or ice water. At this point, a mate straw (yerba mate bombilla) is inserted through the mixture to the bottom of the vessel, while a thumb is kept over the bombilla tip in order to keep it from becoming clogged. The liquid is consumed through the straw, and refilled as desired.
Some of the more popular juices and fruits to use in Tereré are lime, orange, lemon, mango, peach, or grapefruit. Some of the more popular herbs to use in Tereré are mint, lemongrass, or lemon verbena. Of course, any herb or juice could be added, even beer and lime cola have their supporters.
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