Jazzing Up Your Mate or Terere with Yuyos
Paraguayans are firm believers in using medicinal plants on a regular basis to heal ailments and prevent illness. Nowhere is this practice seen more than in the addition of yuyos (or poja nana in Guarani) to mate and terere. In plazas and street corners throughout Paraguay you will see yuyo vendors (yuyeras) sitting behind tables covered with a wide array of medicinal plants. They will also have a large mortar and pestle. Customers stop by, make their selection, and watch as their custom blend is mashed up to order and either handed over in a small bag or dunked directly into their waiting thermos. Yuyos are generally not used in terere after lunch and it is almost impossible to find yuyeras in the afternoon.
Choosing from the many small bundles of roots, leaves, and flowers may seem intimidating at first but will become quite fun once you get the hang of it. Some options, such as mint (menta), rosemary (romero), sage (santa lucia), lemongrass (cedron kapi’i), and chamomile (manzanilla), will be familiar, while others are a mystery waiting to be discovered. Generally, you should stick to three yuyos – two leafy ones and one root. Yuyos also fall into categories based on their effects – medicinal, refreshing, diuretic. Yuyeras are happy to make recommendations. Are you tired? Do you have a stomach ache? Are you hung over? Think of the yuyera as your personal apothecary. Each terere session is a chance to experiment with different combinations of yuyos. Between the myriad of yuyos and yerba mate brands the possibilities are endless. No two tereres are the same!
Suggested combinations (note certain yuyos are seasonal and may not be available year round):
Perdudilla, burrito, cedron kapi’i or menta’i.
Santa lucia, parapara’i, and cedron or menta’i or burrito.
Menta’i, cedron kapi’i or cedron en palo, and mbokaja rapo.
Yuyeras often also rent out terere and mate equipment (equipos) if you don’t have one of your own. For roughly Gs. 3,000 to Gs. 5,000 you will be given a bombilla, guampa with yerba, and either a pitcher of cold water or thermos of hot water depending on whether you are drinking terere or mate. Wander over to the nearest bench and enjoy!