Yerba Mate vs Matcha: a Battle is Brewing

What's the difference between yerba mate vs matcha? These two drinks are often compared to each other, and in this article we’re going to see what makes them different.

We’ll conduct a comparison between matcha tea vs yerba mate when it comes to flavor, production, health benefits and more.

Let’s get started! 🧉🍵

 

A Brief Overview of Yerba Mate vs Matcha

Before we compare yerba mate vs matcha, we should do a brief summary of each. 

What is Matcha?

Matcha powder is essentially a powdered green tea, but it has to be made from special tea leaves. It is famous for its use in the Japanese tea ceremony, where it is mixed into warm water using a bamboo whisk or chasen. It is very high in caffeine, amino acids and antioxidants.

If you want to learn more about matcha, we made a whole encyclopedia for you! You can read all about it here 👉 What is Matcha? The one and only Matcha-Encyclopedia

 

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate is not technically a tea but rather an herbal infusion that is mostly consumed in South America. It is made from the ilex Paraguariensis plant which is rich in caffeine and minerals. It is typically consumed in a gourd with a metal straw or bombilla.

 

The Production of Yerba Mate vs Matcha

To understand the differences between mate vs matcha, it’s helpful to understand how each of them are produced. Let’s take a look at the production of matcha tea vs yerba mate to see the differences and similarities of each.

 

Matcha Tea Production

Shading

Before the matcha is even harvested, it needs to be shaded. When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it begins to convert theanine into bitter catechins. To produce a sweeter, less bitter tea, the farmer can cut the tea plant off from sunlight so the plant maintains more of its sweet theanine.

Harvesting

When it comes to the harvesting of mate vs matcha, matcha is very particular. It needs to be made from only the top 3 sprouts of the tea plant. These are the youngest leaves and therefore they are the richest in flavor and nutrients.

Processing

After the leaves are harvested and collected, the process has just begun. The leaves need to be steamed in order to lock in these vegetal taste profiles and prevent the tea from turning into a black tea. They also have their stems removed, as this will detract from the flavor of the tea.

Grinding

Once the stems are removed and the leaves are dried, the tea can be ground into a fine powder in a large stone mill. This granite mill takes up to an hour just to produce 50 grams of precious matcha powder. 

If you want to take a deep dive into the production of matcha tea, you may want to check out this guide here 👉 How is Matcha Made?

 

Yerba Mate Production

Harvesting

Yerba mate is primarily grown in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The leaves are typically harvested from the yerba mate shrub (ilex paraguariensis), which is a species of holly native to the Amazon.

The ideal harvesting time is during the warmer months, typically from October to April.

Drying

After harvesting, the leaves are spread out in the sun to dry, which allows moisture to evaporate. Drying enhances the flavor, aroma, and longevity of the leaves.

Proper drying is crucial to prevent the growth of molds and maintain the quality of the yerba mate.

Aging

Once dried, the leaves are aged for a period ranging from several months to a couple of years. This aging process contributes to the development of the yerba mate's flavor profile, mellowing its bitterness and enhancing its character.

During aging, the leaves are stored in cool, dry environments to achieve the desired results.

Grinding and Processing

After aging, the dried leaves undergo a process called sapeco, where they are exposed to heat to halt the enzymatic activity and further enhance flavor. The leaves are then coarsely ground to create a mixture of leaves, stems, and fine powder.

The final mixture is known as yerba mate, and its composition can vary, giving rise to different types of yerba mate with distinct flavors and characteristics.

 

Matcha Tea vs Yerba Mate Flavor

The flavor is one of the biggest differences between yerba mate vs matcha. A high quality matcha is designed to have a smooth, vegetal flavor profile while yerba mate tends to be more robust.

Yerba Matcha Flavor

There are two main types of yerba mate, roasted and “green” mate. The roasted yerba mate has an intense, almost smoky flavor profile and the green mate is more earthy and slightly astringent.

One similarity between mate vs matcha is that both flavors are considered to be an acquired taste, but they are extremely different.

Matcha Flavor

The flavor of matcha is quite complex, and a lot of work goes into curating a nuanced taste experience. Most good ceremonial matcha will have a smooth, milky mouthfeel to it with notes of steamed vegetables. 

Some matcha teas will have a hint of these more flowery notes, and some will even take on a hint of white chocolate or tofu.

If you really want to learn what matcha tastes like, we wrote a whole article to describe the taste profile 👉 What does matcha taste like? Taste Chart with Video

 

Yerba Mate vs Matcha Caffeine

The caffeine content of yerba mate vs matcha is a topic that often gets talked about. Both of these teas are considered to be very high in caffeine, but let’s find out how they compare!

By the way, if you want a full guide on the caffeine content in different types of teas and herbal infusions, you can find that here 👉 Which tea has the most caffeine

Matcha Caffeine Content

When comparing the caffeine of matcha tea vs yerba mate, matcha is generally considered to have less, but as you will see there are a few reasons why this might not be the case. 

One teaspoon of high quality, ceremonial matcha contains 68mg of caffeine. If you use 2 tablespoons you already have more caffeine than many cups of coffee. Also, even though matcha is high in caffeine, it may go unnoticed because you don’t get the same jittery effect as you do with coffee. 

Matcha contains l-theanine which balances out a lot of the negative effects of caffeine, which is why tea drinkers report having a longer lasting calm alert sensation throughout the day.

Yerba Mate Caffeine Content

The caffeine levels in yerba mate can vary, but they generally fall between that of traditional tea and coffee. An 8-ounce cup of yerba mate typically contains around 70 milligrams of caffeine, making it on a similar level to a cup of coffee. 

The reason the caffeine content is so high might have to do with the fact that the drink is traditionally prepared with a large amount of leaves and only a small amount of water. This is something we will explore in the next segment.

 

Mate vs Matcha Preparation

One of the biggest differences between yerba mate vs matcha is how they are prepared. If you are used to preparing loose leaf teas, these preparation methods will seem very foreign to you. Let’s briefly go through the preparation of mate vs matcha.

Matcha Preparation

What makes matcha unique from other types of teas is that it is not infused into water. Because matcha comes in a powdered form, it can be mixed directly into water. This is done with a bamboo whisk or chasen, and when you mix the powder directly into water you are consuming the entire leaf along with all of its benefits.

If you use the bamboo whisk, and follow the proper whisking technique, you should be able to create a nice green foam on top of the matcha. This contributes to a lighter, airier consistency and a smoother taste profile.

If you want to make expert level matcha teas, we recommend you read this guide 👉 How to Make the Best Matcha

Yerba Mate Preparation

When you compare the preparation of yerba mate vs matcha, mate is more similar to a typical loose leaf tea. The leaves are infused into water rather than being consumed directly.

The difference is instead of being brewed in a strainer or a teapot, yerba mate is brewed directly in the cup and then drunk with a straw. The strainer is actually on the metal straw (bombilla) itself. This filters out the leaves as you sip the drink, so they stay in the cup and not in your mouth.

 

Yerba Mate vs Matcha Health Benefits

Both matcha and yerba mate are considered to be nutritional powerhouses, but which one is better? Let’s compare the health benefits of matcha tea vs yerba mate to how they measure up.

If you want to find a complete list of health benefits when it comes to matcha tea, this is the place you should go 👉 What do Scientists say about Matcha Benefits? Find Out Here

Yerba Mate Health Benefits

Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, yerba mate supports immune health, aiding the body's defense against oxidative stress. 

The high caffeine content of yerba mate contributes to enhanced alertness and focus, coupled with theobromine and theophylline that foster a calm energy boost. 

Yerba mate is also thought to aid digestion, promote cardiovascular health, and potentially assist in weight management. 

Matcha Health Benefits

High in antioxidants, matcha offers protection against oxidative stress and supports the immune system. Because when you drink matcha you consume the whole tea leaf, it can provide a potent source of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll. 

Matcha contains a high amount of caffeine, combined with L-theanine, promoting calm alertness and focused energy that lasts throughout the day. 

Studies suggest matcha may aid in metabolism, enhance cognitive function, and contribute to overall well-being. Drinking matcha can help you stay energized, avoid sickness and stay on track with your fitness and weight loss goals.

 

Yerba Mate vs Matcha the Final Verdict

After conducting a thorough comparison of yerba mate vs matcha, it’s fair to say that both of these teas offer a unique flavor and potent health benefits.

They both offer a fun opportunity to learn about a new culture and they can be a great replacement to coffee. If you want to try some matcha tea, you can browse our selection of some of the best matcha teas we’ve found during our travels around Japan.

After tasting hundreds of different matcha teas, we’ve selected these ones as having the best flavor and they are also rich in caffeine and antioxidants. Try them out for yourself and let us know what you think!

And if you enjoyed this article, we strongly advice you to make sure to read 👉 Chai vs Matcha: Teatime Turf War is Heating Up

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