Yerba Mate - South America's Green Gold

Yerba Mate - South America's Green Gold

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate, Ilex paraguariensis, grows first as a shrub and matures eventually into a tree that can grow up to 15m in height. The leaves are evergreen and often called ‘yerba’ (Spanish) or ‘erva’ (Portugese), both means "herb". The Yerba Mate leaves are naturally nourishing and caffeinated.

The plant is seen as subtropical. Just like high quality coffee, premium mate is grown in the shade. This way it delivers more flavour and contains more natural, nutritional properties than the mass produced plants grown in the sun. It thrives best in its original rainforest environment.

Yerba mate is the national beverage of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil where it is consumed 6 to 1 over coffee

It is said that Mate leaves have the "caffeine strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate" all in one beverage.  Of the six commonly used stimulants in the world: coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa and guarana, yerba mate triumphs as the most balanced, delivering both energy and nutrition.

The caffeine content of Mate varies between that of green tea and coffee.  Unlike tea, yerba mate has low tannin content so it can be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter.  However unlike coffee, yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, so it is less likely to cause stomach acid.


Yerba Mate compared to Green Tea:

While yerba mate and green tea share many of the same benefits, (antioxidants, polyphenols, flavenoids, bioflavenoids, and theophylline) modern science has shown that mate has more active compounds than green tea. In fact, yerba mate has higher polyphenol and antioxidant counts than both green and black teas.

In technical terms, green tea is produced using the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are immediately fired after being picked, and green tea is not fermented or roasted. From a health point of view, green teas are superior to oolong and black teas, as many of the beneficial antioxidant compounds are protected by the green tea production process. Black teas may taste sweeter because they are fermented and then roasted whereby the sugars caramelize, but the milder taste comes at the expense of its antioxidant qualities. Yerba mate, is processed much like a green tea, but it is by no means "green tea" as we know the drink made from Camelia sinensis.


The mate drink is very versatile and it can be prepared in many different ways, from using any type of tea infuser, or a French press all the way to a coffee machine, even an espresso maker it need to be. Yerba Mate can be drunk hot, or cold; serve it with milk and honey, or iced with lemon and mint, the ways of enjoying it are countless.

6th April 2016

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