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Guide to Yerba Mate Gourds

Guide to Yerba Mate Gourds

So you are up to speed with what Yerba Mate is but you are finding it difficult to choose the type of Gourd to buy. Worry not; this post is our guide to Yerba Mate Gourds and will give you the clarity you need.

One of the main benefits of drinking your Yerba Mate the traditional way, other than looking cool (with a gourd and a bombilla) is that you can be sure you are extracting all the goodness your Yerba has to offer. You will be repeatedly steeping your Yerba Mate (topping up on hot water) and agitating the herb with the sucking action from your bombilla sips.

Types of Yerba Mate Gourds

Materials wise there are five main materials used for making Gourds, however even within each class of material; Gourds come in so many shapes and styles that you can be sure of finding something to your liking.

The five materials used to make Yerba Mate Gourds are:

  • Calabash (Squash)
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Silicone

What material you choose for your Gourd would very much depend on your personality and lifestyle as each material has its own traits, some advantageous, other disadvantageous.

Calabash Gourds
calabash gourd

Gourds do not get any more traditional than this. Calabash Gourds are made from the squash plant. The plant is dried and hollowed then decorated with all sorts of exquisite patterns or left blank, showing only the natural colours of the squash.

The fact that this style of Gourd has been used for millenniums by the natives of South America, Calabash Gourds really are intertwined with the history of Yerba Mate itself.

Here are a few good and bad points about Calabash Gourds

THE GOOD

  • Bland ones are cheap (relatively)
  • Variety of sizes
  • Traditional.

THE BAD

  • Mould Growth
  • Inside can have many flakes of plant matter
  • Requires what is known as Curing
  • Add bitter taste to your Yerba Mate infusion, unless properly cured and used for a while.
Wooden Gourds
wooden gourd

When it comes to ergonomics, Wood Gourds rule! The craftsman can control the shape well and can produce spectacular results. Wood Gourds are often made from Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) which is a VERY dense and heavy wood that adds a faint pine flavour to the Yerba Mate infusion.

Wood Gourds are also Algarrobo (Prosopis nigra) wood which is lighter with a faint red colour.

Here are a few good and bad points about Wooden Gourds

THE GOOD

  • Flavour enhancement
  • Good protection from heat
  • Easier to clean than Calabash Gourds
  • Ergonomic shape.

THE BAD

  • Also needs Curing before use
  • Thick walls mean a smaller volumetric capacity to hold Yerba Mate
  • Often crack with repeated use due to hot water.
Glass Gourds
glass gourd

Glass Gourds have not been around for long. They are made of thick glass that is usually wrapped in leather to provide some insulation from the heat. Being glass, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and the exterior leather makes for some interesting designs.

You know the trill by now, here is the good and bad with Glass Gourds

THE GOOD

  • Couldn’t be easier to clean!
  • No Mould
  • No Curing needed
  • Large volumetric capacity.

THE BAD

  • Can easily break
  • No added flavours (assuming that is your thing)
  • Far from traditional.
Ceramic Gourds
ceramic gourd

Ceramic gourds are also fairly new to the game. They are either made of Stoneware Ceramic or Porcelain Ceramic, Porcelain being the tougher of the two in terms of withstanding knocks and falls. They come in endless designs and textures and are really convenient and hassle free.

As always, below is the good and bad with Ceramic Gourds

THE GOOD

  • Also couldn’t be easier to clean!
  • No Mould
  • No Curing needed
  • Large volumetric capacity
  • Good heavy feel in hand.

THE BAD

  • Can break if dropped
  • Also no added flavours (assuming that is your thing)
  • Also far from traditional.
Silicone Gourds
silicone gourd

If you think Glass and Ceramic are new, you’re behind the times! Newest of all is kitchen grade Silicone. It was bound to happen really! Silicone has high heat insulation and is super easy to mould into clever shapes and designs. You can’t get much variety in terms of texture, it is just Silicone texture, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Here is the good and the bad with Silicone Gourds

THE GOOD

  • Again, super easy to clean
  • No Mould
  • No Curing needed
  • Large volumetric capacity
  • Funky bright colours.

THE BAD

  • Being soft, it feels flimsy
  • Again, far from traditional.

4 comments

    • Haha I have a few gourds myself, some natural, others ceramic and glass. Whenever I’m feeling lazy, I use my ceramic gourd, way easier to clean afterwards.

  • I am looking for answer on a question if shape of gourds matters? All of the gourds are wider at the bottom and thinner at the top (pear-shape), does it help to prepare yerba mate in a different way than in standard cup or glass ??

    • Hi Matt. The shape you mention is simply to keep inline with tradition. So it does not matter. There are many gourds that do not conform to the shape of “wider at the bottom”. Many people simply drink them in regular tea glasses. https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2443/3859641041_52d6cd6528_b.jpg.

      I say, simply drink it whatever way you feel comfortable. There isn’t really a right or wrong way. The important thing is that you enjoy your Yerba 😉

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