Yerba Maté, also known as Paraguay Tea or Jesuits Tea, is the most popular beverage consumed in South America. Yerba Maté is synonymous with sharing and is mostly consumed at social gatherings.
When the Jesuit missionaries came to South America over 300 years ago, they noticed that although the South American Indians lived on an all-meat diet, they did not develop scurvy. This was attributed to their consumption of a tea made of a local plant, which they drank from cups carved out of gourds. The Jesuits named the tea Yerba Maté after the Spanish word for gourd, and began to cultivate the holly-like shrub.
Yerba Maté is also a major ingredient of South America's most popular soft drink, and almost every gas station is rumoured to have a hot water dispenser for the sole purpose of refilling people's thermoses of Yerba Maté.