Green tea and yerba mate are two hot beverages that are rapidly rising in popularity because of their many health benefits. However, the two are often conflated with each other for some reason. But both are completely different, though they do have some virtues that should be considered. Lets settle the yerba mate vs matcha green tea debate once and for all and take an in-depth look at their differences so you can see which one would be the better option for you.
Both plants have completely different origins. Matcha tea was brought over to Japan by a Chinese zen monk who introduced the practice of consuming tea in powder form around the 13th century. This is where matcha in the form we see today originated from.
Mate originally comes from South America – Brazil and Paraguay to be exact. The tea was discovered and first consumed by the local Guarani tribes who then introduced it to Jesuit missionaries who came to the area. Originally, mate was poured into a dried gourd and sipped through a special metal straw which was then passed from tribe member to tribe member in a special ceremony.
Taste and Appearance
Matcha tea is produced by taking dried green tea leaves and crushing them. Its bright color comes from its unique cultivation method. Each leaf is carefully de-stemmed and de-veined which is why matcha powder is so smooth and fine. Matcha tea has a slightly astringent flavor with slight grassy and vegetal overtones, which is why it works very well for culinary usages and can be combined with other beverages easily.
Yerba mate, on the other hand, has a very astringent taste which comes from the leaves’ high tannin content. That’s why it’s a bit of an acquired taste. Also, the leaves are not de-veined or de-stemmed like matcha, which results in a rougher texture and taste. That’s why it is often coupled with a sweetening agent to make it more palatable.
When it comes to matcha vs mate, the way they are prepared is very different as well. Matcha is very versatile and can be whisked in with water to form a kind of paste that can be diluted in water and then drunk as a drink. You can also add matcha powder to recipes to give them a distinct taste.
Mate, on the other hand, is prepared more like you would any other type of steeped tea. Traditionally, the tea should be steeped in a hollow gourd then drunk through a bombilla, which is the name for the hollow metal straw that was originally used by the Guarani tribes. Yerba mate is also not as versatile as matcha tea and isn’t commonly used for other purposes besides drinking, so we don’t suggest you use it for cooking.
Matcha contains a wide variety of different essential vitamins and nutrients, which includes potassium, vitamin C, and zinc. It also has a low cholesterol and vitamin content, which makes it a great choice if you’re trying to watch your weight. Matcha tea is also high in antioxidants like chlorophyll and catechins.
Mate is high in various vitamins and nutrients as well. It is high in antioxidants, theobromine, theophylline and amino acids, which are powerful stimulants that are also found in coffee, chocolate and tea. Mate, just like matcha, is also very low in calories and is a good option for people on a weight loss program.
Both matcha and mate contain caffeine which makes them a great option if you’re trying to stay alert and awake throughout the day. Matcha contains around 75 mg worth of caffeine for an 8oz cup vs 80mg for mate. However, matcha also contains L-Theanine, which is very powerful when used in combination with caffeine.
In addition to giving you zen-like added energy, L-Theanine is also known for its brain boosting properties. It has been shown to increase concentration and relaxation. When used with caffeine, it was also shown to significantly increase mental capabilities while eliminating some of the common side effects of coffee like crashes or jitters. The L-theanine found in Matcha (but not Yerba Mate) is natures way of making a perfect combination. Theanine provides a NON-sedative “relaxation” that makes the combination with caffeine an incredible 1-2 punch. Highly recommended.
Mate also helps counteract the side effects that are often associated with caffeine, though some people will claim that it doesn’t contain caffeine at all, but rather a compound known as “matteine”. However, more evidence is needed to back up that claim. Also, mate doesn’t have L-Theanine like matcha tea does, so you won’t be getting the nootropic effects either. Here is another interesting article on matcha vs coffee.
Matcha is very rich in antioxidants, and has been shown to slow down the progression of cancer cells, aid in reducing inflammation, and can boost metabolism as well. Matcha has also been shown to significantly reduce bacteria growth that is responsible for plaque and acne on the skin.
Epigallocatechin gallate is the antioxidant that is the most abundant in matcha tea and is the reason behind its metabolism and weight loss properties. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties makes it great for skin and teeth as well.
Mate is also rich in antioxidants, just not as much as matcha tea. The primary antioxidant you’ll find in mate is Chlorogenic Acid and is known for its ability to slow down the release of glucose inside the body as well reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Mate has been shown to have weight loss properties as well by increasing energy expenditure, controlling appetite, improving insulin sensibility, and burning fat reserves.
Energy Boosting Properties
Matcha both combines the power of caffeine and L-Theanine, which increases alertness, improves mood, enhances concentration, and boosts energy over a long time period. Studies have shown that matcha could increase energy production by as a much as 8% and could maintain heightened concentration and energy levels for as long as 8 hours. Matcha can also help improve endurance and performance, which makes it a great supplement for athletes as well.
Mate is also great for boosting energy levels. It can stimulate alertness and concentration without causing a crash since it has a significantly lower concentration in caffeine than coffee. Mate is also great for athletes since it increases energy expenditure and reduces fatigue.
Weight Loss Benefits
Matcha’s high concentration in EGCG is what makes it so potent for people trying to manage their weight. Matcha can boost your metabolic rate by as much as 40% and can increase your ability to convert fat into energy by 17%. It has also been shown to reduce fat accumulation and absorption, especially around the abdominal region.
One particular study found that using matcha tea as part of an exercise routine could increase the amount of fat burned by as much as 89%. Matcha has also been known to reduce blood cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease and obesity.
Mate is great for weight loss as well due to its appetite suppressing properties, and the fact that it boosts energy expenditures and increases your body’s ability to burn fat.
Skin Care Benefits
Both matcha and green tea have amazing benefits for the skin as well. Matcha is increasingly being added to skin care products and we can expect to see it in more products in the future.
One of the reasons matcha tea works so great for skin care is because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Matcha tea has also been shown to reduce the amount of damage caused by UV rays, which can slow down aging, reduce acne, and help prevent skin cancer as well. EGCG also improves hydration and blood flow to the skin, which can improve skin structure. You can get the benefits of matcha by both drinking it or applying it directly on your skin.
Mate’s rich antioxidant content is one of the reasons why it has great skin care benefits as well. It has been shown to reduce stretch marks and cellulite, eliminate damaged skin cells, and improve circulation to the skin. However, you can’t use mate directly on your skin like you would matcha. You should drink mate if you want to get all the skin care benefits it has to offer.
As you can see, while matcha and yerba mate do share some slight commonalities, they are both two completely different products. So, before you decide to buy any of them, make sure that you are well informed about their properties so you can make the right decision based on your needs.
There is however one thing unique to matcha. By taking a matcha supplement, you can essentially get all of its benefits but in a much more convenient form. If you’re always traveling or on the move, this might be a nice perk!
Updated January 16 2020