Mate is the ultimate infusion for Uruguayans, as is the tea for the Chinese or English.
It consists of a solution of hot water mate and, in some cases sugar-sweet-mate and others with total lack of sugar-bitter mate or "Spook" - making it a hot drink.
Similarly ("mate") is called its container in a half pear (originally was made from small gourds cut).
In Uruguay, a symbol of friendship, is a habit so ingrained as stronger institution.
Currently the Thermos, built by Uruguayans over 50 years ago, has contributed to its widespread use. There is no place you can not see a man or woman, walking, working or enjoying a show, with the heat under the arm (in a very own) drinking mate.
The yerba mate, although similar in many ways, not like any other tea. Its shape and "technical" preparation, symbolism and ritual, makes it essentially different. It even says "prime", instead of serving, giving the idea of keeping it, feed it and sustain it.
The matte usually takes shared. This is the main reason, socialization, but also serves to join in a moment of solitude or reflection.
Yerba mate is included in Uruguay within the "basic food basket" as a staple. Although not produced in the country, and preferably is imported from Brazil, consumption is the highest percentage in the region.
When it's hot, can be taken with ice water or cold, denominating tereré, custom widespread in Paraguay, flavored with lemon or orange in the water, and / or weeds (herbs).