Indeed, in 2013, mate was officially declared a “national infusion” of Argentina, where an estimated 250,000 tons of herb are consumed every year. Paraguay has a National Tereré Day (tereré is a drink made with yerba mate, but it’s drunk cold). The brew is now a common sight in health stores and specialized coffee shops in the U.S.
Technically, mate is not a tea, but rather, an infusion. “Tea” refers to a drink made from the leaves of the evergreen Asian shrub camellia sinensis, whereas the leaves in mate come from Ilex paraguariensis, a shrub with small greenish-white flowers that grew especially abundant in Paraguay.