Mate (Spanish: [ˈmate], Portuguese: [ˈmatʃi]; sometimes also spelled maté), also known as chimarrão (Portuguese: [ʃimɐˈʁɐ̃w̃]) or cimarrón (Spanish: [simaˈron]), is a traditional South American infused drink, particularly in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and the southern states of Brazil and to a lesser degree in south of Chile, the Bolivian Chaco, Syria and Lebanon. It is prepared from steeping dried leaves of yerba mate (llex paraguariensis, known in Portuguese as erva-mate) in hot water.
Mate is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. The straw is called a bombilla in some Latin American countries, a bomba in Portuguese, and a bombija or, more generally, a masassa (type of straw) in Arabic. The straw is traditionally made of silver. Modern, commercially available straws are typically made of nickel silver, called Alpaca; stainless steel, or hollow-stemmed cane. The gourd is known as a mate or a guampa; while in Brazil, it has the specific name of cuia, or also cabaça (the name for Indigenous-influenced calabash gourds in other regions of Brazil, still used for general food and drink in remote regions). Even if the water is supplied from a modern thermos, the infusion is traditionally drunk from mates or cuias.
Mate plant, or Yerba mate (Spanish: [ˈʝeɾβa ˈmate]; also spelled in English as maté, from the Spanish: yerba mate, Portuguese: erva-mate [ˈɛʁvɐ ˈmatʃi]), binomial name Ilex paraguariensis, is a species of holly (family Aquifoliaceae), well known as the source of the mate beverage. Though the plant is called yerba in Spanish ("herb" in English), it is a tree and not an herbaceous plant. It is native to subtropical South America in northeastern Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. It was first used and cultivated by the Guaraní people, and also in some Tupí communities in southern Brazil, prior to the European colonization. It was scientifically classified by the Swiss botanist Moses Bertoni, who settled in Paraguay in 1895.
The mate plant, Ilex paraguariensis, is a shrub when young and a tree when adult, growing up to 15 meters tall. The leaves are evergreen, 7–11 cm long and 3–5.5 cm wide, with a serrated margin. The flowers are small, greenish-white, with four petals. The fruit is a red drupe 4–6 mm in diameter. The leaves are often called yerba (Spanish) or erva (Portuguese), both of which mean "herb". They contain caffeine and related compounds and are harvested commercially.