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Last Updated on July 9, 2022 by Scott
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.
A brief look at each of the teas in their unbrewed state will reveal that matcha is a powder while yerba mate is loose leaf. Another major difference between the two is that matcha is real tea while yerba mate is actually an herbal.
In this article, we’ll review the differences and similarities between matcha and yerba mate, as well as the benefits both types of tea can have. Additionally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions and address an important topic on everyone’s mind: caffeine.
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 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.
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’s 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How Do You Prepare Yerba Mate?
If you want to steep yerba mate like you would any other loose leaf tea, you need to make sure you have the proper equipment.
- Add about one or two tablespoons to a tea strainer or French press, depending on your preferences for flavor strength.
- Pour a little bit of water on the leaves to slightly moisten it and start releasing the flavor.
- Next, add a cup of 170 degree Fahrenheit water.
- Don’t use boiling water or you will burn the leaves. Let the leaves steep for five minutes and then strain them out.
Alternatively, you could prepare the tea in the traditional way by brewing the leaves within a gourd and using a special straw to sip the tea to avoid ingesting any of the raw leaves.
How Do You Prepare Matcha?
The most optimal way to prepare matcha is with a bamboo whisk and a ceramic tea bowl.
- Spoon about one to two teaspoons of matcha powder into the tea bowl depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.
- Add a little bit of hot water, about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, and whisk the combination into a froth.
- Once the tea is frothed up, you can add more hot water and drink your tea straight from the bowl.
Some people like to add sugar to their matcha tea to cut down on the grassy flavor and make it a little sweeter, while others prefer the raw natural taste of the tea.
How Much Does Matcha Cost?
Matcha comes in two different grades: culinary and ceremonial. Culinary grade matcha is generally cheaper being priced at twenty-five to fifty cents per gram of powder, and the quality is slightly lower since it’s meant to be used for making things like matcha ice cream or cake frosting.
Ceremonial grade matcha is much more expensive at seventy-five cents to a dollar per gram. You can tell the difference between the two grades because ceremonial grade matcha will be brighter green in color and have a stronger smell and flavor.
It’s not a good idea to buy matcha cheaper than twenty-five cents per gram because the quality will be terrible and you will not experience the rich flavor and the full benefits of this amazing green tea.
How Much Does Yerba Mate Cost?
Depending on the quality of the leaves, yerba mate can cost at least a dollar per ounce of dry leaves. The more expensive the leaves, generally the higher the quality. A good way to tell if you are getting a good quality yerba mate is by noting where the leaves were harvested.
If the distributor is straight from South America, chances are you’re getting a top notch product. If they come from someplace else, they may not be as fresh as you would like. Note the vibrancy of the leaves and the strength of their dry smell in order to tell the quality.
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’re 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.
What Is the Caffeine Content of Yerba Mate vs Matcha?
When it comes to a pick me up, most people prefer to select a tea choice that has a lot of caffeine, especially for an early morning wake up. If you’re considering replacing your first cup of coffee with a cup of tea, is yerba mate or matcha the better choice?
Yerba mate has the higher caffeine content equaling approximately 80 mg of caffeine per cup compared to the lower content of matcha at an average of 30 mg per cup. Both of these are less than a cup of coffee but have a much better caffeine delivery system.
As opposed to coffee which slams you with caffeine energy only to make you potentially crash later on, the caffeine in tea slowly spreads throughout your system and gently settles, giving you a much more energized experience overall.
Are There Negative Effects to Drinking Yerba Mate or Matcha?
While both teas provide lots of health benefits, certain people should take precautions when considering choosing yerba mate or matcha as a staple in their diet.
Studies have shown that people who drink alcohol on a regular basis or smoke cigarettes are at a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer if they consume large amounts (one to two liters per day) of yerba mate.
Additionally, both yerba mate and matcha should be avoided by pregnant women as caffeine should be restricted during pregnancy to optimize the health of the mother and baby.
Aside from these conditions and the presence of an allergy to either tea, both drinks are safe and healthy to consume on a daily basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Which Has More Antioxidants: Yerba Mate or Matcha?
A. If you’re looking to combat oxidative stress and boost your immune system, yerba mate typically has more antioxidants than matcha. Although matcha is also packed with antioxidants, so you can’t go wrong with either choice.
Q. Can You Mix Yerba Mate With Matcha?
A. Blending the flavors of yerba mate and matcha together will give you a rich earthy, grassy flavor packed with the health benefits of both teas. It may be wise to brew them separately and then combine them since they have different preparation methods.
Q. Is Yerba Mate Good for Your Liver?
A. The antioxidants in yerba mate can help increase liver health and decrease the production of unhealthy fats that can lead to disease.
Q. Is Matcha Healthier Than Coffee?
A. Both matcha and coffee share certain health benefits; however, matcha edges coffee out slightly in the health department. Matcha offers a better delivery system for caffeine, more protein, and typically fewer fats and sugars than coffee.
Q. Which Drink Is Better?
Both yerba mate and matcha are healthy and can offer you a lot of health benefits. They’re 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.
Medical Disclaimer: While we have done a lot of research to help inform this article, it’s important to note that this is for informative purposes only and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. For those readers who have any health-related concerns or questions, we recommend you consult with a medical professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.