People around the world depend on caffeine to get moving during the day, but the source of that caffeine varies from one part of the world to the next. Yerba Mate is a popular drink in Argentina and Brazil and is slowly making its way to the United States. Here is how it differs from your typical cup of Coffee.
Caffeine is a necessity for the average American adult, but there are always choices on where that caffeine comes from.
While most people in the United States reach for Coffee, many people in South America reach for Yerba Mate instead.
Both of these drinks contain caffeine, come from natural sources, and the flavor may require some getting used to. They are similar in cultural significance as well, and both have been enjoyed for thousands of years around the world.
If you’re an avid Coffee drinker but looking for something with some additional health benefits, Yerba Mate may be right up your alley. Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between the two to help you decide which is right for you.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba Mate, more commonly just called Mate, is an herbal tea and traditional South American drink made from the Ilex paraguariensis plant. This plant is a distant relative of holly and is native to South America.
Mate is made by steeping dried leaves from the Yerba Mate plant, and, like other teas, it can be enjoyed hot or cold.
What is Coffee?
Coffee is a drink made from ground berries or beans from a Coffee plant. Coffee is produced and enjoyed all over the world (check out these Jamaican Coffee Brands!).
It is often served hot or cold with additions like special flavors, cream and sugar or even iced like this Iced Coffee Recipe from Southeast Asia.
The biggest difference between Coffee and Yerba Mate is the health benefits, and it’s one of the reasons Yerba Mate is gaining more popularity around the world.
Both Coffee and Mate are high in antioxidants which improve the immune system, can help lower bad cholesterol, and provide a boost of caffeine that can help wake up the body and focus the mind.
While both drinks contain caffeine, the caffeine in Yerba Mate leaves is said to be more lasting, without the jittery side effects that Coffee may give some people. It has adaptogenic properties which regulate the body’s systems and have a calming effect.
Yerba has often been called the drink of the Gods. In addition to those benefits, Yerba Mate may aid with weight loss and help lower cholesterol, improving heart health. Yerba Mate contains more than 24 different vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants which gives it more antioxidant power than green tea and about as many vitamins as many vegetables. It is sought after for these positive effects.
Yerba Mate has also been shown to be helpful for a healthy digestive tract and may improve sports performance by improving physical endurance.
While both drinks can be beneficial, they also have some negative effects when it comes to health. Coffee provides a great boost of energy but you may also feel a crash when the caffeine wears off and Coffee has actually been shown to increase stress hormones in the body. Coffee is also very acidic which may cause heartburn and acid reflux among other problems.
Yerba Mate and Coffee both contain caffeine which has laxative properties and may cause other digestion problems for people who are sensitive to too much caffeine.
Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or certified in nutrition, so please reach out to your doctor to discuss if Coffee or Yerba Mate will affect your health.
Both Yerba Mate and Coffee contain about 75 to 85 mg of caffeine per cup, but the way the drinks make you feel may differ.
Some people report that the caffeine in Coffee makes them feel jittery and on edge, pumping up their heart rate and causing a crash at the end of the day.
Yerba Mate has just a bit less caffeine than Coffee. The Yerba Mate caffeine content has been shown to give drinkers a boost of energy and focus but without those negative side effects. In fact, Yerba Mate contains adaptogenic properties that have a calming effect on the body.
Yerba Mate also releases caffeine more slowly into the body, providing lasting energy levels rather than a one-time boost.
Both Yerba Mate and Coffee have a slightly bitter flavor that takes some getting used to.
Coffee has a roasted, rich flavor to it that plays well with the addition of cream and sugar. Yerba Mate has a more woodsy flavor, which makes sense when you see the leaves and sometimes sticks and stems in the drink.
Both Yerba and Coffee can have slightly different flavors depending on the climate it is produced. In both drinks, you can taste the quality of the plant and the effort gone into growing it.
Yerba and Coffee could both be considered an acquired taste and most drinkers will tell you they enjoy it the more they drink it. Most people who drink Yerba Mate in South America do so without the addition of extra flavors or sweeteners but some cream, sugar, or fruit syrup does make the drink more enjoyable.
Both Coffee and Yerba Mate have become significant parts of daily life for those who drink them. People often start their morning with a cup of Coffee or Mate but they also bring people together.
In the United States, it’s not uncommon for people to suggest meeting up for a cup of Coffee or discussing an issue over a cup of joe. To facilitate this you can find a Coffee shop on just about every corner.
Coffee has also been made to be more palatable for a larger audience with the addition of many different flavors, syrups, sweeteners, and creams.
Mate is even more ingrained socially. It’s used as an excuse to disconnect from worries and socialize with friends, coworkers, or family. People often spend an hour or longer sitting around, drinking a cup of Yerba Mate, and relaxing together.
Yerba Mate is served out of a gourd or calabash and sipped through a metal straw, which gives it its own unique vibe.
Both can be enjoyed hot or cold over ice.
If you feel like life revolves around your morning caffeine, there are options for how you get it. If you’ve always been a Coffee drinker but hate the jittery feeling, yerba may be a great alternative to try.
Loose-leaf Yerba Mate tea can be brewed in a traditional gourd or a French press. Yerba Mate is a tea and is prepared by steeping the leaves in hot water like you would with any other kind of tea.