I'm from Argentina, and I'm not sure if one can board a commercial flight with mate ("tea"). It's a beverage you prepare by filling a recipient with the dried grass ("yerba mate") with hot water, and drink it from there with a straw-ish.

Will I be allowed to carry it on board, or should I dispatch it with the hold luggage? May I drink it during the flight?

I know you can't board with water, but I was expecting the flight attendants to provide me.

Does any of the answers change between a domestic flight in Argentina - or maybe other mate-drinking countries - and international flights?

  • Back in Europe flying with drinks is frowned upon both for security and commercial reasons (i.e. they want to sell their own drinks inside the duty free area and/or onboard). You might buy that tea in a coffee shop inside the duty free area, however you would pay dearly for it. Your mileage may vary however, in Dubay drinks were quite cheap in the duty free area. Your best bet is to buy the tea there and take it on board. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 4 '17 at 14:27
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    How is it? liquid? solid? transparent or opaque? – Vince Jan 4 '17 at 14:35
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    @NateEldredge Now it looks like the OP wants to take cannabis onto the plane, to some British speakers. :-) – camden_kid Jan 4 '17 at 20:05
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    "Maté" may be used by some English speakers, but I regard it as incorrect. It's definitely incorrect in Spanish. It's too bad we can't use italics in titles. – Nate Eldredge Jan 4 '17 at 22:38
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    Would be clearer to ask about "yerba mate" – WGroleau Jan 5 '17 at 5:01

I have heard that people have carried the dried product on board without issue (both in hand luggage and hold luggage, I think) and see no reason why they should not be able to. TSA for example does not identify it specifically as a prohibited item and in the UK for example, caffeine is not a controlled drug (eg mate is available in health food shops, over the internet and elsewhere).

Airlines normally have hot water available on flights and that (in a container!) should be all your require to enjoy your mate during a flight but you may prefer to bring your own guampa and bombilla.

The trouble is that I have also heard of at least one issue with trying to take (dry) mate on board, I suspect in hand luggage. This had not been commercially packaged and I think that rather than argue the case its owner abandoned it at Security. The problem being that when loose it can look suspicious to someone unfamiliar with the product. That is hardly likely to be the case in Argentina, or for any flight departing Argentina (after all, mate is officially the "national infusion" there!), or for a commercially packaged and labelled example. In countries where cannabis is rife the reaction to mate may be different.

However this was the only instance I have heard of any problem with it and there are plenty of other examples of Security acting inconsistently at times.

I hope the above may just be acceptable as enough of an answer to allow me to add my opinion: There is negligible probability of you having any issue and every chance you will be allowed to drink it on board, regardless of where flying to or from, but only if commercially packaged. If loose your chances are not as good.

  • There is also the issue of getting past security with liquids, unless for health reasons. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 4 '17 at 14:31
  • @RuiFRibeiro I don't think there is much issue in getting anything past Argentinian domestic security ... but as far as I was aware, liquids were not banned on Argentinian flights? – Calchas Jan 4 '17 at 19:46

To amplify pnuts' answer, I suggest you pack your mate alongside empty fill-them-yourself teabags. Having the two of them together in the same context makes it more likely that the airport screener will assume the mate is some exotic kind of tea, rather than anything more suspicious.

(Yes, I know that mate is not brewed in teabags; you're using them like a theatrical prop.)

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