Mate is traditionally prepared in a hollowed calabash gourd known as a mate or guampa. The gourd is packed anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 full of leaf and then filled with hot, but not boiled water (160 - 180°F). Next, a stylized silver straw tipped with a built in strainer, the bombilla, is inserted into the gourd.
The traditional way to drink Yerba Mate is fun and engaging group activity. The Cebador (server) fills the gourd and drinks the mate completely with a Bombilla (straw) to ensure that it is free of small particles and that it is of good quality. The server subsequently refills the gourd and passes it to the next drinker who likewise drinks it all. The ritual proceeds around the circle until the mate becomes lavado (washed out), typically after the gourd has been filled about eight to ten times.
Rinse well with with hot water a few times. Avoid using soap as it will get absorbed into the walls of the gourd and distort the flavor of Yerba. After rinsing it with water, shake well to discard excess water and dry outside with towel. Store in a dry place.
Before first use, it is a good idea to 'season' the gourd. To do this, brew 6-7 ounces of Yerba Mate at double strength. Pour into the Gourd and keep overnight.