Comparing matcha with yerba mate
Yerba mate, or "mate" if you're trendy, is an herbal tea made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. It is very popular for its fresh taste and numerous health benefits. It has also been shown to support weight loss and increase energy.
If this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Our beloved Matcha is also a tea that is popular for its numerous health benefits, sustained energy supply and ability to help with weight loss. On the surface, yerba mate and matcha might seem interchangeable, but upon closer inspection you'll notice some key differences. To save you some time, we have put together a small overview for you. In our opinion, there is more than enough room for both delicious beverages in your life, but of course we can't blame you if you end up with no choice but to declare matcha the winner.
May the battle of drinks begin:
The Origin - The Story
A long time ago, in 1191, matcha was developed as a ceremonial tea by Japanese monks. The ritual of preparing and consuming matcha has been passed down through the years, with each generation honoring the practice created by that one monk. Little did he know that centuries later we would still be part of his creation. And while we don't always enjoy it the way he does (kudos to Matcha Donuts), the health benefits and fresh taste of Matcha will never fall victim to time.
On the other side of the world, in the temperate climate of South America, the ancient Guarani tribes mixed their own brew. Yerba mate is a tea made from the leaves and twigs of the native plant, the mate shrub Ilex paraguariensis. Originally a Guarani cultural symbol, it was soon discovered by Jesuit priests who took it around the world.
Flavor & Texture - The Experience
As you may know, matcha is an extremely potent variety of green tea that is stone-ground specially cultivated green tea leaves into a bright green powder. The leaves are defoliated and stemmed, making the matcha powder fine and smooth.
Matcha's flavor is naturally sweet with a slight earthy undertone and a tiny hint of bitterness. Basically, matcha tastes very similar to a strong green tea, just with less bitterness and more flavor. It suits almost all tastes, and matcha is not only the perfect accompaniment to many beverages, it is also great for food preparation. If you want to be inspired by matcha, visit our recipe page. Matcha is only as limited as your imagination.
Yerba Mate is made from the dried leaves of the Paraguayan Datura tree. These leaves are harvested in the forest and then dried to be prepared for consumption. Unlike matcha powder, yerba mate can only be prepared by soaking it in water.
In addition, unlike matcha, yerba mate has a "taste that takes some getting used to". Similar to a grapefruit, mate has an extremely high tannin content, which gives it a distinctly bitter taste. It is also "more woody" than matcha because the leaf veins and stems are not removed. For this reason, yerba mate is most commonly found in ready-made drinks with sugar and added flavorings.
Preparation - The Process
As we have already mentioned, matcha is extremely versatile and can be prepared in numerous different ways. But if you want to experience matcha the way the monks did centuries ago, you can. A traditional matcha preparation includes a mindful meditation in which you stir the matcha powder into hot water.
Traditionally, Matcha is blended with a bamboo whisk, but at MatchaLand we use the modern (quicker and more hygienic) method using an electric blender .
Mate, on the other hand, is prepared in the same way as most teas. You simply steep the dried tea in a cup of hot water. Traditionally, it is served in a hollowed-out gourd with a metal straw called a bombilla. Nowadays, however, pre-made mate is mostly drunk from bright yellow cans. We would not recommend adding yerba mate to food.
Nutritional Information - The Facts
One of the reasons for matcha's ever-growing popularity is its incredible nutrient density. Unlike teas, which require you to steep, matcha gives you 100% of its nutrient capacity every time you consume it - giving you about 10 times the antioxidants of "regular" green tea steeped in tea bags.
You will also find caffeine, L-theanine and chlorophyll. If you want to learn more about matcha and its health benefits, check out our blog here.
Likewise, yerba mate is high in amino acids, antioxidants (not as much as matcha), and also caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, all known stimulants found in coffee and tea. And while it doesn't have matcha's potentially cancer-fighting properties, it can help with weight loss.
Caffeine - the energy statistics
A portion of Matcha (2 grams) contains about 80 mg of caffeine. That's not much compared to coffee, but matcha has a secret weapon: the amino acid L-theanine. It works in tandem with caffeine and slows its entry into the bloodstream. So when you drink matcha, instead of a quick burst of energy, you experience a long, lasting burst of energy. This powerful amino acid also eliminates the jitters that sometimes accompany coffee and can promote a calm, focused mind.
Yerba mate has a similar amount of caffeine per cup. This is also less than coffee, but unlike matcha, mate does not contain L-theanine and therefore does not provide a long-term source of energy. So less energy than coffee, without the long-lasting benefits of matcha...
As you can see, matcha and yerba mate are very similar. Both are teas with a long history of health benefits backed by modern science, and both are healthy alternatives to coffee.
and the winner is... MATCHA!
Matcha is more versatile to consume and does not require any sugar or sweetener to be tasty. It's also higher in antioxidants and L-Theanine, and it just tastes really good, making it our winner.
Although matcha is still gaining the upper hand in the battle of beverages, yerba mate is still a stellar beverage. It's just not as good as matcha.