Tasting Uruguay’s MATE Tea, The Country’s National Obsession

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Mate in Uruguay - Montevideo markets

I fell in love with Uruguay. It’s by far one of my favourite countries due its relaxing ambiance, decent beaches, great cities, scrumptious food, bus travel is easy, friendly people and their obsession with Mate!!! Mate is a traditional drink I tried in Montevideo Uruguay, the national obsession. Yes this is a Uruguayan thing; you do see the drink in Argentina, but to get the best Mate tea and witness the Mate phenomenon, you need to head to Montevideo.

Mate tea restaurants in Montevideo Uruguay

What is Mate Tea?

In short – it’s a hot herbal tea that is a national obsession in Uruguay (*and Argentina and Paraguay). Grown, harvested, dried then sold, all the Mate I tried in Uruguay was green in colour, because of the green tea leaves which also leaves a very distinct taste.

Mate cup in Montevideo Uruguay

Where can you try Mate Tea in Uruguay?

Believe it or not, as a tourist it is quite difficult to come by in restaurants in Montevideo. Most restaurants don’t serve it, but luckily I’m here to break the mould and tell you how to find it! Uruguayans carry their own Mate with them at all times. They take it to the doctors, to the toilets, to the beach, to the pub. They don’t even mind that they have to carry a cup of Mate everywhere with them since they literally carry it everywhere. If you get on a bus in Montevideo in the day time then loads of passengers will be holding a cup of Mate Tea.

The Manchester Bar on Avenida 18 de Julio (it’s on a prominent corner on the main road, just a few blocks up from Plaza Independencia).

Get Mate Tea in Montevideo in the Manchester Bar on Avenida 18 de Julio

How to order Mate Tea in Uruguay:

Short answer: Dos de Mate por favor. Two Mates please.

Long answer: Once you’re inside the Manchester Bar (or another bar that serves Mate tea) just ask for 2 small ones.

What do you get when you order Mate Tea in Uruguay?

This is entirely what you get when you order Mate Tea in Uruguay:

– One large flask full of hot water (this can be topped up for free)

– One Mate container

Mate containers in Montevideo Uruguay

– The Mate tea itself in leaves inside the container

– The typical silver Mate tea straw, which is called a Bombilla

What is Mate tea in Uruguay like?

I LOVED it. I’m big into my teas though and rarely find one that I don’t enjoy. Mate is really relaxing, healthy and stimulating. Sorry Argentina, Uruguay’s Mate Tea is the best. Head to Montevideo and get your Mate tea fix – you might just fall in love…

A video of myself and travel buddy Wesley Tang trying the Mate tea in Montevideo, Uruguay:

Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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