While tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world; and 600,000 tons of green tea are consumed every year according to the World Green Tea Association, another hot drink has prevailed for centuries in some South American countries: Yerba Mate. Recent studies have shown so many benefits for this natural drink, that its popularity is rapidly growing abroad.
But along with curiosity, the yerba mate tea can also raise questions: is it better than green tea? Is it better than coffee? Are there side effects? Can you drink it every day? Let’s study both of them:
Yerba Mate vs Green Tea
- Origin: Even though both are natural and healthy drinks; Green tea comes from the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis tree, which grows in some Asian countries. Yerba Mate, on the other hand, is prepared with the leaves of the Ilex Paraguariensis plant, which only grows in a few countries of South America. Learn more about the Ilex Paraguariensis plant and the origin of Yerba Mate.
- Preparation: Yerba Mate is prepared and consumed in a unique way, different from teas and any other beverage. To prepare traditional yerba mate, you will need to brew the mate leaves in warm water and then sip it using a special metal straw called bombilla. There are other ways to prepare yerba mate like cold-brew and sweetened.
- Flavor: while green tea has a delicate, earthy flavor; yerba mate is a little more intense and bitter (although this will vary according to the variety you choose, the way you prepare it and if you add sugar, honey, or fruit peels).
What they do have in common
- Culture: Tea plays an important role in several Asian countries, especially China and Japan. It’s an irreplaceable part of people’s lives. Thousands of kilometers away, in Argentina and Uruguay, the situation is no different: most citizens couldn’t live without yerba mate. Neither of them is “just a drink”, they are very important for the history and culture of these countries.
- Health benefits: both infusions are completely natural and good for the body, offering a significant amount of health benefits, with very little to no side effects.
- Tradition and ceremony: Just as Japan has a traditional and almost spiritual ceremony called Chado to drink Matcha; Yerba Mate is also shared in groups in a very special way (read more about the “rules of etiquette” for yerba mate here)
Which one is better, yerba mate or green tea?
Both yerba mate and green tea are among the best drinks in the world because of their benefits, flavor and history; so saying that one is better than the other might be unfair and difficult to justify. However, because green tea is better known around the world than yerba mate, whose excellent properties are only now gaining momentum, it is important to know that:
- Yerba Mate has more antioxidants than green tea. Antioxidants help to prevent oxidative stress and cell damage in the body. Although tea also has antioxidant power, they’re not exactly the same: Mate tea contains a high concentration of chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid can slow aging, improve cognitive and heart function, reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels; reduce cancer cells, increase glucose and fat metabolism (which could lead to weight loss) among many other benefits.
- Yerba has more active compounds than green tea. Among the 196 volatile chemicals found in yerba mate tea, only 144 are present in green tea. These include essential vitamins (A, B1, B3, B5, C, and E) minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and selenium) as well as amino acids, flavonoids, trace minerals, polyphenols, fatty acids, and chlorophyll.
- Yerba mate gives you a higher energy boost than green tea. While they both contain caffeine, 50 g of yerba mate brewed with 500 ml of water contains approximately 370 mg of caffeine, while a cup of matcha tea, for example, may contain around 60 mg, although this also depends on how you brew your tea, as well the type and brand; which may be another difference: caffeine content in yerba mate might be more consistent. However, even though the energy effect is stronger; yerba mate won’t cause any of the unwanted side effects that people usually feel when drinking too much coffee.
Is it safe to drink yerba mate every day?
In a word: Yes! You can drink yerba mate every morning as you would drink green tea or coffee. Numerous studies confirm that yerba mate is healthy and nutritious, unlikely to cause any harm or put your health at risk. Yerba Mate is actually the drink of choice for many famous athletes and sportsmen.
Advantages of yerba mate over other drinks:
Yerba mate is not only a worthy opponent of green tea; it has also shown clear advantages over coffee. The effect of mate is less aggressive and easier to process for the body, without side effects like nervousness or tachycardia (read more about the advantages of mate over coffee). It’s also healthier than drinking commercial energy drinks; as the energizing effect of Yerba Mate comes from nature itself, and it offers a large number of nutrients and advantages that energy drinks are lacking (read more about the advantages of mate over energy drinks). Yerba mate is also perfect to include in any fat-free or sugar-free diet.
It looks like a tie! Although there is one final advantage to yerba mate: novelty. If you feel like trying something different than good old tea; this is your chance to benefit from a legendary, natural drink.