Yerba Mate vs Green Tea – Which One to Choose?

Both yerba mate and green tea are healthy and energizing drinks that have been enjoyed by humans for centuries. While these two drinks are similar in some ways, they originate from opposite sides of the globe and are made with different plants.

I like both and thought it would be interesting to compare them.

Which one provides more health benefits? How is their taste different from each other?

Which one has more caffeine?

This article will provide you with a thorough comparison of yerba mate vs green tea and how to use these drinks to your benefit.

What are Yerba Mate and Green Tea?

Let’s start from the very basics and take a quick look at what these two drinks are made of.

yerba mate gourd bombilla and leaves
Traditional yerba mate cup (gourd), straw (bombilla), and fresh and dried yerba mate leaves

Yerba mate tea is an invigorating herbal tea that is brewed from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a holly tree native to South America. It has been relatively unknown in other parts of the world but is now becoming more popular especially in North America and Europe.

This traditional herbal infusion shows great potential in boosting mental and physical performance and being effective aid in losing weight and burning fat.

chinese clay teapot green tea and jasmine flowers
Chinese Yixing clay teapot, green tea, and fresh jasmine flowers

Green tea is a refreshing drink made with unoxidized leaves of Camelia Sinensis, the tea plant. Originating from China, it’s one of the most popular drinks in Asia including Japan and India.

Touted as one of the healthiest drinks in the world it has been traditionally used to improve brain function, reduce inflammation, help in fat loss, and lower the risk of cancer.

Yerba Mate vs. Green Tea – Taste

Something that is definitely important for all of us is taste. No matter how healthy, you don’t want to drink something that is unpleasant.

Taste Comparison

Yerba Mate: The flavor profile of yerba mate is quite different from that of green tea. If you are not used to drinking yerba mate, its bitterness and earthiness might be overwhelming. But once you get used to it, you will start to appreciate the taste and subtle differences of various yerba mate brands.

Green Tea: While green tea can also be slightly bitter, when brewed the right way its flavor is more grassy and herbaceous. Chinese green teas often have light floral flavors. Japanese greens typically include some sweet and slightly seaweed-like notes.

Caffeine Content of Yerba Mate and Green Tea

If you are looking for a tea with the most caffeine, then yerba mate is definitely something you should try.

A single 8 oz cup of yerba mate can have as much as 180 mg of caffeine. That’s 50% more than in an average cup of coffee!

However, this applies mainly when the mate tea is brewed with the traditional method of using a gourd and bombilla. And this means it’s not even drunk from a cup but a gourd.

If you use yerba mate tea bags to brew your drink, it will have much less caffeine. You can also use a French press and then the strength really depends on how much loose leaf mate you add in the water and how long you let it steep.

Below is a chart that gives you an overview of the caffeine content of some popular drinks:

yerba mate vs green tea caffeine content
Average caffeine content of yerba mate, coffee, black and green tea

The caffeine content of a cup of green tea can vary from 14 – 60 mg per cup. The amount depends mainly on the type of tea you use, how long you brew it, and how hot is the water that you use.

The amount of caffeine in a cup of green tea is somewhat comparable to yerba mate tea brewed with a tea bag.

Yerba mate tea contains two other stimulants in addition to caffeine. Theobromine is also found in chocolate and its effect is mildly uplifting and euphoric while theophylline boosts mental energy and is also present in green tea.

Yerba Mate vs. Green Tea Benefits

The health benefits of both yerba mate and green tea have been studied quite extensively.

But which one is healthier?

Let’s see how they match up.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that scavenge free radicals in our body and can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of many diseases.

While both drinks have a high antioxidant content the types of antioxidants they contain are quite different. This makes it hard to do a direct comparison between these two healthy infusions.

Yerba mate has a high concentration of chlorogenic acid but no catechins while green tea is rich in catechins. It actually makes sense to drink both yerba mate and green tea because they complement each other and help you get a broader variety of beneficial antioxidants.

Weight Loss

Yerba mate contains a number of compounds that can help aid in losing weight and burning fat.

Here are the main reasons why yerba mate is one of the best teas for losing weight:

  • Boosts Physical Performance: Research indicates that drinking mate tea before exercise helps with training harder and burning fat more efficiently.
  • Helps with Burning Belly Fat: Drinking yerba mate increases metabolism and is effective for decreasing the overall body fat mass and burning belly fat.
  • Aids with Decreasing Appetite: If you are having difficulties with controlling your appetite, then you should definitely try drinking some yerba mate when you feel hungry. It can help with reducing the feeling of hunger so that you can avoid snacking and stick to regular mealtimes.

Studies have also shown that green tea can be a great help in weight management. It boosts metabolism and contains compounds that help the breakdown of fat.

In my opinion yerba mate is still the clear winner.

Energy and Focus

Yerba mate is a great aid in improving cognitive function and mental alertness due to its stimulating compounds.

I feel like it definitely helps me with working more efficiently. It also boosts physical performance and can be used as a pre-workout drink.

man and woman exercising

Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine — a combination shown to increase cognitive performance.

From these two options, yerba mate is unquestionably the stronger energy booster.

Cardiovascular Health

Drinking yerba mate tea regularly can help in reducing the risk of heart diseases mainly by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. According to a 2016 review of scientific studies regular consumption of yerba mate can help with minimizing cardiovascular risk factors.

Research indicates that green tea has similar effects on cardiovascular health. A review of several studies concludes that the catechins in green tea have positive effects on blood pressure and preventing several heart diseases.

How About Side Effects?

While yerba mate tea has a number of health benefits, it should be noted that it can have some side effects too. Common side effects of yerba mate include anxiety, insomnia, and stomach discomfort caused mainly by its high caffeine content.

It is also true that yerba mate might contain small amounts of carcinogens when it’s dried with the traditional method of using smoke. If you are worried about this, buy a product that is unsmoked.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be very careful about consuming yerba mate tea.

Green tea can also have some side effects. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it can cause issues with sleep and increased heart rate. In addition, it might cause stomach irritation and heartburn especially if you make it too strong.

How to Prepare Yerba Mate and Green Tea

Yerba Mate

The traditional South American way to prepare and drink yerba mate is to use a gourd and bombilla.

traditional brewing of yerba mate

First, loose leaf yerba mate is added to a gourd (cup) made of wood, ceramics, or other material. Then it’s brewed with hot water between 150 to 175 Fahrenheit (65-80 Celsius) and drank with a bombilla (straw). The same mate tea can be brewed several times.

If you want to learn how to do it properly, check out my guide about brewing yerba mate tea.

You can also make your mate tea with a French press or a teapot. One of the easiest ways is to simply buy yerba mate tea bags and steep one in a cup with hot water.

Green Tea

Loose leaf green tea is usually brewed in a ceramic, glass, or cast iron teapot.

freshly brewed green tea

The water temperature depends on the type of tea you have but is typically about 160°F (or 70°C). The tea is steeped for about 2-3 minutes.

Of course, you can also use tea bags to make it.

Combine Them – Yerba Mate Green Tea

After comparing yerba mate and green tea, we can say that both of them are energizing drinks with many health benefits. The main difference is in taste and the fact that yerba mate has more caffeine and provides a stronger energy boost.

But have you ever thought about combining these two drinks?

Well, I have, and here is an easy way to make a nice yerba mate green tea infusion:

Yerba Mate Green Tea Recipe

  1. Choose your favorite loose leaf yerba mate and green tea. Put one tablespoon of each in a teapot or French press.
  2. Add a splash of cold water to moisten the mixture. This will help make the infusion less bitter and more flavourful.
  3. If you want, you can put in some additional herbal ingredients for extra health benefits and a more complex taste. Some of my favorites are mint, ginger, and licorice root.
  4. Add about 2 cups of hot water (160°F or 70°C) and let it steep for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Pour into cups and enjoy!

Mix in some honey if you like your tea sweet. You can also adjust the amount of yerba mate and green tea according to your taste.

As mentioned earlier, the antioxidant profiles of yerba mate and green tea are very different and complement each other well. This means that your drink will be super healthy!

I hope that this guide helps you with choosing between yerba mate and green tea or combining them if you wish to do so.

Enjoy!

-Joonas

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