Tereré (T-ray as nicknamed by PCVs) is the official drink of Paraguay. One of the first things we were taught in training, literally on the first day, was how to drink tereré. Trust me there are rules.
But first comes first, what is Tereré? The technical definition I got from Wikipedia is that it is a infusion of yerba mate prepared with cold water. (Maté is the same thing, but, prepared with hot water)
Next comes the Tereré equipo (equipment).
These are the 4 main things needed to drink Tereré. First is a pitcher for the water (you can also use termos, but those are a little expensive for me right now so I’ll stick to my 1$ pitcher.) Next is the guampa. The guampa is the cup that you drink tereré with, this one I bought in Asunion and had my name put on it. That pink thing is a bombilla (straw), and finally that is a box on the yerba mate. There are many different kinds you can use.
My guampa, a closer look.
My bombilla. Not all bombillas are pink, but I thought it was fun.
The yerba after a few drinks.
Another, non mandatory, part of drinking tereré is yuyos,or medicinal herbs. A lot of Paraguayans will add these herbs to the water when they drink Tereré. There are so many possible yuyos and each of them have some purpose like helping digestion or good for headaches.
|A list of different yuyos we learned about in training.|
Now onto the rules/customs. When drinking tereré you are usually sitting in a circle. There is one person who is in charge of the tereré (usually the youngest person), they have the guampa and fill it with water from the termo and pass it to each person in the circle. When you get the guampa you drink the whole thing and when you are finished pass it to the person in charge, where they refill it and pass it to the next person. When you no longer want your turn with the tereré you just say “Gracias” to the person in charge. (This for some reason was very hard concept for us as trainees to understand)
|Drinking T-ray in my new house.|
|Elena serving me tereré|
|A lot of little kids don’t drink Tereré, but Alex loves it.|
|Passing the guampa back.|
Tereré is such a huge part of life in Paraguay its almost hard to explain. When Paraguayans ask me if we drink it in the United States and I say no, their usual response is “Well what do you drink then?” At work, instead of taking coffee breaks they take Tereré breaks, students drink it at school, I was even at a spa the other day (getting my free massage that I won at the 4th of July picnic) and there were girls drinking tereré in the sauna. It is so much more than a drink too, since the act of drinking it is such a group effort, it is an excuse to sit and talk with your friends. It is a great way to meet new people as well, instead of having those awkward silences, you can just sit and Tereré.