French Press Yerba Mate – How to Make It

For a delicious coffee at the start of the day, I’ve long been a big fan of a French Press. Letting everything brew just produces a superior drink that’s a great way to get the morning started. 

One day at an Argentine restaurant I discovered the joy of Yerba Mate. It was served in the traditional gourd with a bombilla (a metal filtered straw, for the uninitiated). Having never had it before I wanted to make it at home, but didn’t want to take the plunge and invest in any specialist equipment just yet. 

The solution? Making yerba mate in my french press, of course!

Whether you’re an avid yerba mate drinker or a newbie like I was, learning how to prepare it in a french press is a great way to get your fix of mate, whether you have a gourd to hand or not.


What is Yerba Mate? 

According to the indigenous Guarani people of Paraguay and the Tupi people of Southern Brazil, it’s the drink of the Gods. 

Yerba mate comes from the leaves of a species of the holly tree, and it’s naturally caffeinated with an herbal twist. It’s been cultivated for centuries and the native tribes of South America believed that it was bestowed upon humans for vitality, stamina, and regeneration by the gods. As a result, it still carries a religious significance in some cultures.

It is one of the six most popular stimulants globally consumed today; tea, coffee, kola, guarana, cacao, and yerba mate. 

It’s thought to be chock full of health benefits and nutrients.

Yerba mate contains almost the same amount of caffeine as coffee, has higher levels of antioxidants than green tea as well as healthy minerals and vitamins such as iron, calcium, vitamins C and E and phosphorus. 

It’s safe to say there’s a lot of great reasons to add a cup of yerba mate (or two) to your day! 

Can You Make Yerba Mate in a French Press?

Traditionally, yerba mate is prepared using a gourd – also known as a mate or guampa – and consumed through a metal straw – known as a bombilla – with a filter at the bottom to prevent the leaves from passing through it. 

Although the traditional preparation method is prefered by purists, I know from my own experience that you absolutely can use your trusty french press to prepare your yerba mate.

How to Make Yerba Mate in a French Press

Whether you want a quick pick-me-up in the morning or you want to fill up your mug and bring it to work, the french press is a great alternative way to make yerba mate. It’s a very simple and easy process and produces yerba mate that’s just as delicious as using the traditional method.

What You Need

  • A french press
  • 2 tbsp. yerba mate of your choice
  • 16 ounces of water at below the boiling point (150° – 180° F.)
  • 3 ounces fresh, room temperature water, ideally spring water


  • First of all, start heating up your water. Be careful not to bring it to the boil.
  • Take the plunger off the french press and add your yerba mate leaves into the beaker. 
  • Pour 3 ounces of your room temperature water onto the yerba mate. This is called the “dummy water” and protects the nutrients in the leaves from the boiling water.
  • Let it steep for 4 to 6 minutes depending on how strong and flavorful you want it to be. If your yerba mate leaves float on top of the water during the steeping, don’t be alarmed. That’s supposed to happen!
  • After it has steeped to your liking, press the plunger, pour into a mug and enjoy while it’s hot!

Making Cold Brew Yerba Mate in a French Press

So, you love the comfort of drinking a hot and soothing yerba mate during the freezing winter. Great! But what if it’s a hot summer day and you want something refreshing?

Cold brew yerba mate, of course!

Another name for cold yerba mate is iced yerba mate. More traditionally, it’s known as tereré, and can be a lifesaver during scorching heat waves in the summer. 

Like it’s hot counterpart, you can use a french press to make cold brew yerba mate as well. 

You can prepare it using hot or cold water, depending on your preference. Hot water produces a more intense, stronger flavor. On the other hand, cold water makes for a milder drink.

If you’re looking for an iced yerba mate recipe to cool off under the hellish sun, look no more. Here it is:

What You Need

  • A french press
  • 2 tbsp. yerba mate of your choice
  • 16 ounces of cold water, ideally spring water. OR 16 ounces of hot water at around 150° to 180° F., not boiling.


  • If you’re using hot water, start heating it up but be careful not to bring it to the boil. It should be at around 150 to 180° F.
  • If you’re using cold water, refrigerate your water beforehand to cool.
  • Take the plunger of the french press off, and add the yerba mate leaves to the beaker.
  • If you’re using hot water, pour it onto the yerba mate leaves. Let it brew for 5 to 15 minutes depending on how strong you like your iced yerba mate.
  • Let it cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or more, depending on how cold you want it to be.
  • If you’re using cold water, pour the cold water onto the yerba mate leaves. Let it steep for at least 1 hour up to 20 hours. It depends on how strong and flavorful you want your iced yerba mate to be. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor will be.
  • Press the plunger, pour it into a glass with ice, and enjoy your refreshing iced yerba mate!