Palo Santo Yerba Mate Gourd

Everything You Need to Know About Palo Santo Yerba Mate Gourds

Why Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourds?

Palo Santo (Busera Graveloens) is a type of tree that grows in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the Brazilian Matto Grosso. It is also known as quebracho, although I seldom hear it called that name.

My fascination with Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourds started early in my mate journey, as it was the second gourd I ever bought. The flavor I tasted was significantly different than I was used to from my Carob gourd, and, as a matter of fact, it made the yerba taste better to my palate.

Despite expanding my Yerba Mate gourd collection with others types of materials – wooden, glass, metal and ceramic – I still find myself always going back to Palo Santo gourds, because the flavor it releases on my taste buds truly can’t be beat.

Palo Santo Yerba Mate Gourd
Palo Santo Yerba Mate Gourd. Source: Urushop

Tips for purchasing Palo Santo gourds

When buying almost anything over the Internet, one of the most difficult things to do is to get a definitive idea if what the item you are buying is everything you are hoping it to be, since you are not able to hold it.

In terms of buying Palo Santo gourds, here are a couple tips I have learned thru my journey:

  1. Make sure that the wood has knots in both sides of the gourd; this ensures that the gourd was made from a solid block of wood and also that the tree had some age to it.
  2. Palo Santo gourds tend to come in different spectrums of green. Argentinians say the darker the green, the more strength the wood has, which makes it less likely to crack. However, most guampas (gourds) made out of Palo Santo that I seen have almost no green color to it, so it may be that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
  3. Most Palo Santo gourds tend to be on the small size, and covered in aluminum or some kind of metal. This is meant to “protect” the wood.
Bundle of Palo Santo
Bundle of Palo Santo

How to cure Palo Santo gourds

After buying your gourd, you have to cure it. And, like everything else that is past down from generation to generation, there are different ways to cure a Palo Santo gourd. But, for the sake of ease, I’ll share the one that has worked for me with 100%  rate of success:

  1. Wash your gourd with room temperature water, set aside and let it completely dry.
  2. Rub coconut oil or butter both outside and inside.
  3. Let the oil sit in for 12 hours, and then rinse with lukewarm water before letting it dry.
  4. Heat up whole milk to 165 F and pour on gourd.
  5. Let it sit for 1 hour, pour milk out and then rinse gourd again with warm water and let it dry.
  6. Prepare Yerba Mate gourd and drink.

The reason for applying the coconut oil and milk, besides the fact that from what I have read is what most Argentineans do, is for the natural fats to seal all of the pores that the Yerba Mate gourd may have.

Palo Santo is an extremely hard wood that is extremely susceptible to changes in moisture and temperature.

It is recommended to have a Palo Santo gourd dedicated only for Tereré,  and not to alternate between it and hot Yerba Mate. If you are only interested in drinking tereré from the gourd, you only need to wash and apply the coconut oil or butter, and you are good to go.

Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourd wrapped in metal
Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourd wrapped in metal

Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourds and flavors

As a side note, no two Palo Santo gourds are alike in regards to the taste profile; some may have a more fragrant smell, while others seem to tame the flavor of the Yerba Mate. In my experience, the gourds that are naked tend to have more of a pronounced Palo Santo fragrance than the ones that are covered in metal. They also don’t absorb flavors, so if you are into flavored Yerba Mate, yuyos (herbs), or adding sugar to your Yerba Mate, there is no carry over of flavor from session to session.

Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourds are also recommended for materos (drinkers of Yerba Mate) who may experience stomach aches and other ailments from drinking Yerba Mate. Note: This local folklore and no medical studies have been conducted to confirm this.

As you can tell, I am a bit obsessed with Palo Santo Yerba Mate gourds. But, when you know what you like, especially when it comes to the vast world of Yerba Mate, a certain kinship is born and you usually stick with it until you find something better.

Now, the only thing is left for you to try it yourself.

If you already have experienced drinking Yerba Mate out of a Palo Santo gourd, or have any questions, be sure to leave a comment below.