Pope Francis during of a weekly general audience at St Peter's square in Vatican.June 6, 2018
Pope Francis drinks mate, the traditional Argentine herbal tea, while greeting the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.June 6, 2018
About mate, the herbal tea that he, Pope Francis and millions of people in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile drink regularly. The tea, often made in gourds and sipped through a metal straw, is made from the dried leaves of the yerba mate shrub, which is a member of the holly family. It does contain caffeine “helps lower cholesterol and for those of us who eat a lot of meat, it’s very healthy.” In Argentina, drinking mate is a social event – sharing the same cup or at least sharing a mate break. People start drinking it as children – usually lukewarm and with milk. Also, he pointed out, the drink is associated with the Jesuits, who promoted its use among the indigenous peoples, including as a way to combat alcoholism. Jesuit missionaries to South America in the mid-17th century domesticated the yerba mate plant and began farming and selling it, expanding its use throughout the region.