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Tereré - More Than Just a Drink

After being completely spoiled with a cold front last week (80 degrees instead of 100), we're back up to high temps. In our home, we live on tereré. Tereré is the cold version of Mate Tea. Everyone in Paraguay drinks it in the summertime. Tereré was introduced by the Guarani Indians in Paraguay and the tradition has been borrowed by the Southern Cone (Brazilians, Argentineans, Uruguayans and Chileans).

Very few Paraguayans drink plain water, so tereré's crucial for hydration in this humid heat. Day wagers take tereré breaks (our version of a coffee break) at 10:00 a.m. and at 3:00 in our area. They gather in a circle and one designated person serves to each person in the "ronda". Each person takes his turn sipping their serving of the cold tea and immediately returns it to the server. It is considered bad etiquette to hold on to the tereré too long! Paraguayans definitely take tereré seriously!

You can use lemonade, limeade, orange juice, pop, or cold water with lemon to pour into the tea leaves. Most Paraguayans add special herbs to their water and crush them with a mortar and pestle, to add a refreshing flavor or medicinal value. Our friends are teaching us about each of these herbs and their uses to cure ailments. We like mint and lemongrass.

One of our cups is a cow horn, called a guampa. The other one we use is metal, to help keep the drink as cold as possible. The straw is called a bombilla and has a filter at the end of it. It can be made of silver or metal and they are easy to lose, but we wouldn't know that by personal experience!

You will see a Paraguayana carrying his/her thermos everywhere they go. Many times they personalize their thermos with their name or their favorite soccer team. Ours has a scripture verse on it, with our name (so it's not stolen), which, unfortunately, has happened, twice.

Drinking tereré isn't just an addicting ritual here, it's a sign of trust and communion. For us, drinking tereré is an important part of our day, not just because it refreshes (and stimulates) us in the heat. It is an excellent time to sit down and catch up on the happenings of each other's day. Some of our best conversations and dreams are born while sipping this delicious drink outside on the porch. Here's a picture of our son drinking tereré. He was only 18 months old in this photo. You know, after all this talkin' I'm already getting thirsty for a tereré !

Do you have some type of "break" to sit down and catch up during the busyness of the day?


  1. Great post on terere. I love the stuff but can't be bothered to make it at home, although I enjoy sharing others :)

  2. We're fairly addicted, too. I don't like the highly flavored ones, or when it's really fresh and powdery. But we love it anyway...

  3. I am too new to be addicted yet. I am still in the try to like terere phase. Abi, however, is frequently asking "mas terere?" I love the terere breaks and driving through Asuncion and seeing businessmen, teenagers, everyone carrying their thermos and wampa on the street, in their car, in the mall... everywhere.

  4. yeah, it's unbelieveble, but in every home, in every street, no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter if u have money or if you're poor, tereré it's always there, it's the only thing what paraguayan people doesn't fifhgt for. LOL

  5. Sentimos muita falta do tereré porque aqui faz muito calor, mas o povo aqui só pensa em trabalhar e se te vêm sentado tomando tereré , pensam que você está perdendo tempo...aqui difícil conseguir uma boa erva de tereré, quando alguém vai para o Paraguay sempre encomendamos para nós...


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