Argentina’s tea culture is a unique blend of indigenous traditions and immigrant influences. Yerba mate, a caffeine-rich tisane made from the leaves of the mate plant, has been a part of Argentine culture since ancient times. In fact, the plant’s origins are steeped in mythology, with legends suggesting that it was a divine gift from the gods.
A Brief History of Tea in Argentina
While yerba mate has always been popular in Argentina, the country’s tea story took off in the 20th century when the government began to import tea seeds from China. By the 1950s, Argentina became one of the leading producers of tea in the world.
Welsh Tea Shops: A British Influence
During the 19th century, the British banned the use of the Welsh language, leading many Welsh people to migrate to Argentina in search of cultural freedom. They brought with them the British tea-drinking tradition, including the concept of High Tea and the practice of adding milk and sugar to the brew. Today, Welsh tea shops are a popular attraction in Argentina, especially in the town of Gaiman.
Drinking Yerba Mate: A Social Ritual
Yerba mate has become an integral part of Argentine social gatherings, with the ritual of sharing the drink cementing social bonds. The host, known as the cebador, prepares the mate and passes it around the group in a shared cup. The first sip is taken by the cebador, as a gesture of respect, before the cup is passed on to the other members of the group. The first person to be offered the drink takes several sips before passing the cup back to the host, who then adds more water to the brew for the rest of the group to enjoy.
In conclusion, the tea culture of Argentina is a fascinating blend of ancient traditions and immigrant influences. From yerba mate to Welsh tea shops, the country has a rich tea heritage that is worth exploring.