Edinson Cavani drinking mate tea.

What is that South American 'mate' drink?

Thursday 21 January 2021 14:59

You will have no doubt seen several Manchester United players drinking it in recent years, including our South American stars, but what exactly is mate tea?

The first thing to know is that it is pronounced as ‘mah-teh’ and is a traditional caffein-rich beverage, made with dried and chopped yerba mate leaves. 

It is bitter in flavour, can be served hot or cold, and is especially popular in Latin countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay – which is why you might have spotted Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Fred, Alex Telles, Edinson Cavani and Facundo Pellistri all drinking it on their social media feeds. 

As there are reported health benefits – scroll down for more on that – the drink has become popular with European players, including our own Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba is one of the European players who has adopted the South American drink.

As you might expect, one of the main reasons why mate tea has become such a hit among footballers is due to the health benefits that are associated with it.

The caffeine-rich drink is a stimulant similar to tea or coffee, and is believed to increase focus and improve mood when enjoyed at the right moment.

The drink also contains vitamins B and C, which are important for metabolism and the immune system. 


Have you tried it? Here is your chance: the preparation is straightforward and is similar to other hot infusion drinks, so just follow these steps…

It is served in a hollow goblet called a gourd - essentially the mug that you have seen the players holding - and drunk through a metal or bamboo straw, known as a bombilla, which serves as a filter.

Fill the gourd roughly half-to-three-quarters with dried yerba leaves, cover the top and shake it to achieve a desired consistency.

The straw is then placed into the gourd along with a small drop of cold water. Once it settles, hot - but not boiling - water is added and you’re ready to drink.

Edinson recently shared a video of him making mate tea at home with his family.


It has been described as a mix between tea and coffee, yet the taste is very unique.

Mate is very bitter when unsweetened and is an acquired taste - like tea or coffee it is something that doesn't taste great on first try but that you get used to over time.

Some have described it as tasting like earth, dirt or soil. Sugar and honey can be added to sweeten the taste, although that is considered untraditional.

Try it for yourself and see what you think!