Change Yourself…Change The World.

The Deal With Paraguay and Tereré
October 10, 2009, 4:17 am
Filed under: Paraguay

Never have I seen such an addiction. This tops even betel leaf, because quite literally EVERYONE in Paraguay drinks Tereré, and their dedication to it is unreal.

Tereré is a drink made of yerba maté, which are a bunch of herbal leaves that are most commonly grown in Argentina and Paraguay. There is a special kind of ceremony here in taking tereré. There is always a cup (a weirdly bent cup with a thin, flat-like metal straw called a ‘guampa,’ that they use especially for tereré), filled about halfway with yerba maté (the leaves). Accompanied with this one cup is always a large thermos (usually the exterior is made of leather, including a pouch for the guampa cup), filled with ice water (sometimes it can be citrus or other kinds of mild liquid). Then the person pours water into the guampa and drinks. The cup is very small, and since half of the cup is filled with leaves anyway, you basically only get about two mouthfuls.

A Paraguayan man with his tereré. What I find most interesting about tereré is that it is always in a guampa cup, it is always accompanied by some type of thermos, and these people just carry it around with them wherever they go- it is literally like tereré is attached to the hip in Paraguay.

The ritual with tereré is to share with everyone. A man will pour a cup of tereré for himself, and then immediately pour another cup of tereré and hand it to his friend, and then immediately pour another cup of tereré to offer to his other friend, and so on. There seems to be no issue or hesitancy of sanitation here because they all drink from the same straw. Tereré is most popular in Paraguay on hot days. No matter whether you are old or young, rich or poor, if you are Paraguayan, Tereré is a staple symbol of your culture. I’ve seen students in the field passing tereré around to their friends, and employees of Fundación Paraguaya (my internship) passing around tereré during meetings.

A guamba cup hiding out in a Paraguayan man’s car door.

Tereré is supposed to act as a kind of stimulant to people, which is why it is so popular. Just as Indians have their betel nuts, and Americans have their coffee, Paraguayans have their tereré. I have been offered tereré twice so far and have tried on both occasions (following the ritual of drinking from the cup of a stranger, which I find a bit strange but go along with since it is a cultural trait). It tastes very…herby? Minty. Herbal leafy. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite thing, but I’ve certainly tried worse. Definitely didn’t feel much stimulant though. Maybe this is because I only had one cup. Nonetheless, it is definitely an endearing trait to Paraguay, a country I am coming to like more and more every day.

Hasta luego,


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[…] (Read more about tereré and how important it is to Paraguayan culture here!) […]

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