Selective focus of cup filled with yerba mate

Yerba Mate vs Matcha

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If you’re an avid tea drinker, it’s easy to identify the differences between real tea — and what is not. Yerba mate and matcha are often compared to each other and seen by some people to be similar. In this yerba mate vs matcha comparison, we’ll highlight the differences so you can be better informed.

Yerba Mate vs Matcha General Overview

Both yerba mate and matcha are loved by many people because of their wonderful taste and their health benefits. However, they still have different characteristics and flavors. Before we dig into what sets them apart, let’s briefly cover what each beverage really is.

Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is a beverage made from dried leaves and twigs of a holly tree. It’s actually an infusion and not a true tea. It has a woody and smoky taste that can be as refreshing as tea. The traditional yerba mate came from the Guarani people who used it as herbal medicine. 

According to the Guarani, yerba mate has medicinal properties that can restore the vitality of life. Nowadays, yerba mate is believed to have qualities that can lower blood pressure and protect against heart diseases. 

A cup of matcha beside a bowl of powder, spoon, and whisk

Matcha

Matcha is a powdered green tea leaf, so it is basically a tea in fine powder form. Early on, it was primarily used as a traditional tea in Asian ceremonies. It originated in China in the 13th century, and then arrived in Japan and became an important part of their culture as well.

For instance, many Buddhist monks drink matcha tea before their meditation. They believe that it will help them keep their focus and sharpen their mind. High-quality matcha has a grassy sweet flavor with a bit of bitterness. Some people like to mix in additives, such as sugar or milk, to make it sweeter or less bitter.

Benefits of Yerba Mate

Yerba mate was known by many people because of its great value for health. It’s one of the main reasons why this drink has been embraced by so many people. Specifically, yerba mate also contains several compounds that are related to important health benefits.

  • It’s rich in antioxidants such as caffeoyl derivatives, polyphenols, saponins, and xanthines. Antioxidants are known to reduce free radicals and toxins in our bodies.
  • It’s also rich in vitamin B and C. It is high in potassium, manganese, and zinc. 
  • It’s also effective in controlling cholesterol levels.
  • In the right concentration, it offers 7 to 9 essential amino acids that help in regenerating your cells and making them functional. 
  • It offers twice the amount of caffeine compared to black tea. However, it’s just half of what you can get in coffee.
  • It’s believed to improve alertness and focus. It can also boost your metabolism and help you burn fat.

Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is real tea, which means that it has all the benefits real green tea possesses. Matcha tea’s health benefits can prevent and even heal some diseases. The combination of amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins offers you a number of health benefits that few beverages can match.

  • It’s known to have polyphenols and catechins like epigallocatechin gallate or ECGC which is a very effective anti-inflammatory substance
  • It has antioxidants that help prevent diseases and help maintain your cells’ function.
  • Antioxidants in matcha can help lower cholesterol.
  • Matcha also has anti-cancer components.
  • It has a high level of an amino acid called L-theanine that lowers stress and anxiety.
  • The caffeine level of matcha may vary depending on its quality and manufacturing procedure. 

Similarities and Differences 

Yerba mate and matcha may seem to be interchangeable because they both taste like tea and look like tea. Yet, there are some clear ways you can tell them apart, whether you’re sipping a yerba mate fusion or a matcha tea.

Close up of a cup filled with yerba mate

Similarities

  • Both of them have plenty of antioxidants.
  • They both have caffeine which can make them better choices than coffee if you’re on a low-caffeine diet.
  • They are known to improve focus and mental clarity.
  • If both of them are of poor quality, they will taste awful and very bitter.
  • They are both uniquely made compared to other teas and beverages.
  • These drinks are both low in calories and sugar which can help in losing weight.

Differences

  • Matcha may taste sweet if it comes from a high-quality source. Yerba mate tastes earthy or woody. 
  • Yerba mate does not contain L-theanine which can promote a relaxed mind and body.
  • Matcha is bright green in color, while yerba mate is dark green in color.
  • Matcha is served as a fine powder, often whisked in a hot water which makes it easier for you to use as flavoring.
  • You should use a special straw when drinking yerba mate so that the leaves will not be in your every sip. That special straw is called a bombilla which has a built-in filter on the other end.
  • Matcha has catechins that can prevent cancer and the growth of abnormal cells.

When Should You Choose Yerba Mate?

If you have no time to whisk or prepare powdered matcha and you need a quick drink, yerba mate can be a good choice. It can also be simpler to prepare and will not take a lot of time and effort. If you choose yerba mate, you should opt for higher quality because it can taste very bitter and very woody if it’s made poorly.

When Should You Choose Matcha?

If you are after the best taste, matcha is the most high-grade choice for you. Though it may take a little while to prepare, the taste will be worth it as long as it is high-quality matcha. Matcha is also a good choice if you want 10 times of antioxidants in a cup compared to green tea leaves alone.

Which Drink Is Better?

Both yerba mate and matcha are healthy and can offer you a lot of health benefits. They are even considered a good alternative to coffee because they contain less caffeine. When it comes to choosing between the two, your taste preference also matters. 

If you’re looking for a real tea, with a pleasing taste and flavor, matcha is most likely a better choice than yerba mate. Most of the time matcha does not need additional sweetener, so you are safe from sugar and artificial flavorings, making it a healthier choice as well.

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