Yerba Mate, beyond Argentina
Each country has its own traditions and local culture, full of collective rituals. A recent article has highlighted some Argentine manners that can be surprising to foreigners in a work environment – and of course, the list starts with yerba mate!
An “acquired taste” for foreigners in Argentina
Besides being passionate, affectionate and used to having flexible working hours; One of the things that surprise foreigners in Argentina is the local tradition of sharing a round of mate with their colleagues. In both Argentina and Uruguay, it is quite common to see employees drinking mate while serving the public, for example at a bank or a store.
Charles is French and has been living in Argentina for six years. Before arriving, he had never heard of yerba mate, and its bitter taste was totally unknown to him. Today, he drinks mate every morning without fail, especially when someone offers him at work (Charles is a freelancer in digital marketing and works from a co-working space in Buenos Aires). “I really like the fact that you can be drinking mate for a long time. A round of mate with my thermos lasts an hour or more, which is great compared to a cup of tea or coffee, which eventually cools down”. For him, the closest thing to the mate tradition is the Japanese tea ceremony; but at least in Europe, there is nothing like it.
A tradition kept alive by Argentines abroad
Business attire, fixed rules, professional attitude in the workplace and … no yerba mate! For an Argentine, adapting to the work environment in another country is not easy either. Although coffee and tea are popular all over the world, drinking these beverages in an office is usually done in a more “individual” and discrete way.
Giuliano is 28 years old and in 2017 he left Argentina to live in Denmark, where there is no yerba mate even though Scandinavians are “heavy caffeine consumers”, he says. However, he keeps the tradition alive with the yerba he receives from his relatives. His local friends see it as some kind of tea and they are curious about the mate gourd and the metal straw: “Once in Sweden they asked me if it was a pipe”.
It is worth mentioning that mate is gaining more and more popularity outside Latin America.