Learn About Bombillas, Straws - Tips to Prevent Clogging

What is a Yerba Mate Bombilla?

The straw to be used to drink yerba mate is called a bombilla in Latin American Spanish, a bomba in Portuguese, and a masassa in Arabic. The bombilla is a tube or straw made of cane or different types of metal that is traditionally used to drink the yerba mate tea. During the course of time people have tried different methods to filter the tea so that you don't ingest the leaves in your mouth.

As with other brewed herbs, yerba mate leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a powdery mixture usually called yerba. The bombilla acts as both a straw and a sieve. The submerged end is flared, with small holes or slots that allow the brewed liquid in, but block the chunky matter that makes up much of the mixture. A modern bombilla design uses a straight tube with holes, or spring sleeve to act as a sieve.

In its crudest and primitive form the bombilla was a reed or thin joint of bamboo, over the lower end of which a few horse hairs have been woven, or a small bit of loose cloth has been tied.

Bombillas vary from the cheapest to the very expensive collector ones. Sterling Silver or Gold bombillas are hard to find nowadays because the cost of these metals is very high in South America therefore artisans or even factories prefer to invest their money in cheaper alternatives. You can always email us if you want one of those badly, more than likely we can get it for you!  

The bombillas that can't be dismantled or disassembled may be cleaned with a straw cleaner, an old toothbrush or a straight pin.

If your bombilla gets clogged don´t sip too hard, try smoothly and with very very short sips, one behind each other while slightly moving the bombilla. To prevent this just add little warm water on the yerba before placing the bombilla.

New drinkers tend to stir with the bombilla while it is in the tea.

This should not be done as it will cause sediment and parts of the leaves to get inside the straw and into your mouth.


As all the metal bombillas have different properties, if you are allergic to nickel you should consider  buying a sterling silver, stainless steel or cane straw rather than an alpaca one.

Alpaca does contain some nickel in the metal.

Every time we are asked about which is the "best" bombilla, we tell our customers that is a matter of personal taste; stainless steel ones are very popular and those which can be disassembled.

Here´s a good example of an affordable high quality stainless steel bombilla with an excellent filter.

Never use soap, only water, to clean the bombilla.        

Does your bamboo bombilla get clogged easily?

Insert a sharp fork in every hole from time to time.

Also we highly recommend using this adjustable cloth filter