Gourd Preparation

The Yerba Maté Gourd

Boiling water can burn your mouth and also harms the yerba maté.
Do not put boiling water in the gourd or your gourd may crack.

The Yerba Maté Gourd

The Yerba Maté gourd, known as cabaça, calabaza, cuia or porongo, is made from the fruit of a gourd vine (Iagenaria vulgaris, cucurbitaceous family). Its preferred size and shape vary from region to region. These natural gourds are widely tailored and decorated, taking on various forms and colors, according to each gaucho’s taste. Maté Factor gourds are harvested and prepared in the traditional fashion, naturally treated and individually decorated on the outside by a craftsman. The finished gourd, being natural, will have its own unique characteristics. Both on the inside and on the outside the gourd may show dark brown or grey stains that characterize the plant. These should not be seen as deformities or blemishes in the gourd, but as natural markings.

How to Cure Your Yerba Maté Gourd

For your gourd to be ready for use, it needs to be cured. This prevents cracking, molding, and improves the flavour of your chimarrão[1]. You will notice that the longer you use your gourd, the better your Yerba Maté will taste. Fill the gourd half-way with Yerba Maté. Add 1 tablespoon of ashes (from fire wood or other burnt plants – do not use ashes from coal or other non-vegetable sources). Finally, pour hot water into the gourd until it is full. Let the gourd sit in a well-ventilated place for 2-3 days, always topping it off with water as the gourd absorbs it. After 3 days pour out the contents of the gourd and rinse thoroughly in running water. Your gourd is ready for use! Another way of doing this that probably yields better results is to mix only the ashes and water in the gourd and let that sit for 24 hours, followed by drying it in a well ventilated place for 72 hours then curing it with the Maté for another 48 hours. This process is more time-consuming, but should produce a more durable gourd.

Taking Good Care of Your Yerba Maté Gourd

After you have cured your gourd and are using it, it is essential that you know how to take good care of it. A good gourd should last you a long time, giving you years of flavourful Yerba Maté drinking. First of all, the gourd should never be dropped. Although it may not look delicate, the gourd is like a piece of fine china. If dropped or abused, small cracks may begin to form which increase with time, creating leaks and compromising your gourd. The gourd is also prone to mold if not dried correctly. To keep you gourd dry between uses, rinse it out well with running water and position it in a well-ventilated, warm place, preferably at a 45° angle so that the circulating air flows through the gourd. Optionally, reserve a cotton cloth to dry the excess water after rinsing the gourd. In case signs of mold (usually white or black “furry” spots) do appear once the gourd is cured, rinse the gourd in scalding water. You may, as an option, use a little hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), then rinse thoroughly with water. Cure the gourd with ashes again to remove and destroy any residue left by the mold. If you are prone to have allergic reactions to molds, do not try to reuse the gourd. The Maté Factor is not responsible for personal health problems acquired through the misuse of gourds, the failure to follow the instructions above, or the use of a gourd once it has molded. The instructions provided in case of mold are intended to instruct our customers on how the native peoples traditionally deal with molding gourds. [1]Pronounced Shee-maw-HUH-oo; in Brazil, the name attributed traditionally to the infusion of Yerba Maté prepared in the gourd.  

Gourd Preparation Tips

Put bombilla in empty gourd and let rest at an angle against the top of the gourd.

Fill the gourd 2/3 full of Maté leaves.

Pour hot (not boiling) water on top of the leaves and sip through the bombilla.

Refill and drink until the mate is not strong enough anymore. The first few sips may allow some leaves to come through, but it seals as the Maté expands around the bombilla.


Now, for those who do not have the patience, there is a simplified method:

The Simple Method

    1. Put a quarter cup of Maté in Gourd
    2. Fill Gourd with water
    3. Stick Bombilla in Gourd
    4. Drink!

    Boiling water can burn your mouth and also harms the yerba maté.
    Do not put boiling water in the gourd or your gourd may crack.

    Here are some tips to make a great tasting gourd brew...

    • Fill your gourd with orange (or other fruit) juice instead of water.
    • Try 1/4 cup of one of our other Maté Factor blends mixed with 1/4 cup Brazilian Green Yerba Maté.
    • Some people add activated charcoal and lime to their Maté. This is purported to be very healthy.
    • Add a slice of peach, grapefruit or lemon in the gourd with Brazilian Green Maté.

    What do You Put in Your Gourd?