So you’re in the market for a yerba mate set; a complete kit to get started drinking mate the traditional way. You will need 3 things: a gourd, a bombilla and a bit of loose leaf mate. There are many starter kits available; this article rates and reviews 5 of the best choices. My goal is to explain the pros and cons of each item and to identify what is the best mate starter kit for you. I review the choices based on quality, brand, prices, and more factors. By the end of the article you should have everything that you need to make a choice on which yerba mate set is best for you!
Below are Planet Yerba Mate’s 3 favorites:
The Argentine Special
This pack has literally everything that you need. It comes with 1.1 pounds of Taragui, one of the top-selling mate brands in Argentina. It also includes a decent bombilla complete with a triple filter and a bombilla cleaning straw. The gourd is made of glass which helps to remove some of the woody mate flavor that can get to your mouth when drinking from a non-glass gourd. Personally I enjoy glass gourds because they’re easier to clean and they provide a different taste & flavor. Some mate shops in the U.S. will only sell their mate in a glass gourds due to the assurance that drinking from glass is 100% healthy. The major downside of the glass gourd is of course, its glass, its easy to break! This is where this package truly shines. The gourd is wrapped in a leather skin that greatly reduces the chances that it will break. Also the leather skin protects your hands when the glass heats up. Allowing you to drink your mate on the go, without having to set the glass gourd down because it is too hot for your hands. In Argentina 1.1 ib of mate would cost you around $5. However, in the United States I’ve seen 1 pound of lesser known mate selling for $15.
Overall, this package is very well priced. The cost of the mate alone covers half the cost. In addition, you get a quality 3 filter straw, and a solid glass gourd. If you enjoy the mate, you can purchase more in bulk here.
Bonus: If you are interested to learn more about the taste and quality of Taragui’s loose leaf mate, I have written a review here.
WyndHorse Yerba Mate Sets
While I have never tasted WyndHorse mate, they are a New Mexico based company that is said to import their mate from Argentina. Their starter kit packages will give you 7 ounces of WnydHorse mate to try. More importantly their sets come with a gourd that features a metal rim and a stainless steel bombilla. My favorite part of this package is the bombilla, this straw is high quality and has a filtering mechanism at the base that helps reduce clogging and improves the quality of your drink. Most of their gourds are large, with lots of room. They are of average quality and are typical of the Argentine gourd style. The size of the gourd is suited for both an individual and a small group. WyndHorse also sells smaller gourds that are preferable for personal use. WnydHorse has many options and many listings on Amazon. The main difference is the gourd design. You can shop all of their complete kits here. As a seller on amazon they have a 92% positive rating, which is strong.
Bonus pick: if you are looking for a really high quality bombilla Yerba Supply has an awesome 21cm straw here. The tiny openings and the spiral design makes it very difficult to clog. This bombilla will work for even the most powdery, fine-grain mate. Letting you enjoy your drink without getting any unwanted pieces of mate coming in through the straw. This is the best bombilla I’ve ever used.
If you are looking to keep your gourd squeaky clean, then buying one of Amanda’s ceramic gourds is a good choice. The best part of this package, is that unlike many of the other starter kits you get a large amount of mate with your purchase. This kit includes ½ kilo (1.1 pounds) of quality lose leaf mate. The Amanda Yerba Mate company has been around for more than 90 years. Known for their classic mate Amanda is an Argentine company that grows its tea in Misiones, Northern Argentina. They pride themselves on being the oldest company producing mate in that region of the world. Finally, the kit comes with an acceptable bombilla. The straw is not as high quality as many of the other alternatives on this page, however, when drinking this Amanda mate, as well as other non-powdery mate blends, this straw will work well.
Guayaki 3-Piece Sets
When I go back home to the United States Guayaki is ubiquitous. Guayaki seems to be the most well-known mate in north America. While their mate is high quality, the gourds in their starter packs are nothing but average. They chose a standard gourd typical of South America. These gourds are a dime a dozen in south America and retail for a much much lower price. Also, this pack comes with only 6 ounces of Gayaki loose leaf, a fraction of the 1.1 kilo’s that are included with the Amanda or Taragui starter kits. Overall, these Gayaki starter kits are a poor value and I wouldn’t recommend them.
Note: I do recommend their loose leaf mate’s as well as their cold drinks, you can see a write-up about the quality of Gayaki’s mate here.
All Silicone Gourds
Avoid silicone gourds! You may be drawn in by the price point and bulk-manufactured look, but don’t be fooled. There are many concerns with these silicone gourds. Firstly, the silicone gives off a distinct smell when you drink from them. In addition nearly all silicone gourds are typically small and flimsy; making it very hard to enjoy a full cup of tea and also making the drinker always paranoid that they are going to have their hot mate spill. Squeezing the gourd displaces the gourd and increases your chances of spillage. The paddle shaped bombillas are low quality, and are mass produced with large wholes making a clogged bombilla common-place. The benefits of an easy clean, curved brim and portability are greatly overshadowed by the negatives associated with silicone gourds.
Already chose your compete yerba mate set/kit of choice? Read PlanetYebaMate’s loose-leaf reviews before you buy your loose-leaf yerba mate!