August 23, 2008

Tereré--The Drink of Paraguay

If you've ever visited Paraguay, you know all about their special tea, a type of yerba mate called tereré (pronounced by us Americans as "teduday," more or less). It is a dry leaf ground up a bit, and sold in a bag like sugar.

Every red-blooded Paraguayan has his own guampa ("wampa")--a cup of sorts, or sometimes a hollowed out bull's horn, and a thermos. They put a bombilla, a metal straw with holes in the bottom for filtering out the leaves, into the guampa, then fill the guampa with the leaves. Next, they pour cold water from the thermos into the guampa. As the water flows over the leaves, it picks up the flavor and becomes a tea. You get a few sips from the straw and then need to refill with more cold water.

There are different flavors, such as citrus, lemongrass, or mint. It's reputed to have tons of health benefits, which is a good thing in my book. Certain herbs are added for their medicinal benefits, to help with things like headaches or stomach ailments. Apparently, there is some significant caffeine content, because workers take terere breaks like we take coffee breaks. Ken says the gas stations he saw had cold water refill stations by the gas pumps, so folks could keep their thermoses full enough for a sip of terere throughout the day. And with summer temperatures in the 100-115°F range, not a bad idea.

This is also a huge cultural thing in Paraguay. Usually, the youngest person in the group is the server. He fills the guampa and passes to the first person, who drinks and passes it back. Then the server pours more water and passes the same guampa and straw to the next person, and it continues. I'm not normally a tea drinker EVER, but I am told it is rude to refuse the terere. I'm trying to get used to it. Ken brought some back and got a refill from Bethany Maney, so he's sharing it with me sometimes. You can mix in some fruit juice and they call it Russian terere, but I sure don't want to look like a goofball in such an important custom. Haha! Maybe I can find a favorite flavor and stick with that, always volunteering to be the server!!


  1. Thanks for commenting on my blog, I will be watching for you guys. If you have anymore questions about the drivers license, feel free to email me, you should be able to from my blog, I can probably answer your questions better over email.

    I love Terere now. Especially on a hot day. I think you will probably learn to love it too!

  2. haha! I still have my terere cup and straw...guess that means I'm ready for a visit! Why don't I travel with you guys when you move, and document the whole a photojournal? That would be cool! Anything to get out of the country, I'll do anything!


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