Materva is a traditional Cuban carbonated soft drink made from yerba mate. Produced in Matanzas, Cuba starting in the 1920's it was an integral part of the culture until the plant was expropriated in 1960 by Fidel Castro's revolutionary government along with other soft drink bottlers such as Coke and production in Cuba ceased.

Materva is still produced in Miami, widely available in Florida and being distributed more widely through the US in Latin ethnic bodegas, supermarkets and Cuban restaurants. It does not have the bitterness of yerba mate but is rather sweet though crisp and refreshing, more like ginger ale or cream soda.

Materva has an outsize place in the Cuban exile community as a nostalgic tie to the old ways that don't even survive on the island. I myself am likely to indulge in it, partícularly when eating at traditional reposterías when down in Puerto Rico for a visit. It is a comforting reminder of my place in the world.


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