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Socio–Cultural Significance of Yerba Maté among Syrian Residents and Diaspora
Economic Botany  (IF1.731),  Pub Date : 2021-09-10, DOI: 10.1007/s12231-021-09523-6
Sulaiman, Naji, Pieroni, Andrea, Sõukand, Renata, Whitney, Cory, Polesny, Zbynek

Socio–Cultural Significance of Yerba Maté among Syrian Residents and Diaspora. Syria is the world’s second–largest importer of the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis A.St.–Hil., commonly known as yerba maté. The unique story of yerba maté in the Syrian beverage culture started at the beginning of the twentieth century when Syrian migrants returning from South America brought the beverage with them. The overall aim of our study is to understand yerba maté use among Syrians and its role as an essential part of the Syrian beverage culture. We compare yerba maté consumption on spatial, gender, and religious bases through semi–structured interviews with 50 respondents, with equal participation among genders, place of residence, and cultural–religious groups (Sunni, Alawite, Christian, Druze, and Ismaili). We found that the Alawite and Druze groups have the highest yerba maté consumption, and that men drink more than women. Yerba maté was the most preferred stimulant drink among participants, followed by coffee and tea, respectively. Interviews reveal social and cultural factors, perceived addiction, perceived pleasure, and perceived health properties as the drivers behind yerba maté consumption in Syria.