Green Tea Vs. Yerba Mate: Which Is For Me?

Are you looking for a healthy alternative to coffee? Or a new tea? Our green tea vs. yerba mate guide will determine which wins the crown for health foods.

Green tea vs. yerba mate
Green tea vs. Yerba mate

It seems like there’s no shortage of fabulous, health-boosting, and age-defying drinks on the market today. From your regular everyday coffee to nootropic mushrooms, tea, and more, there’s always something new to discover in the herbal aisle at Whole Foods. One of the biggest trends and health food items on the market today is yerba mate.

But what exactly is it, and what’s the difference between green tea vs. yerba mate? I found myself asking this very question when shopping the other day, and I thought I’d do a bit of research so you can understand which of these food items is best for you! Below is everything you need to know about choosing between green tea and yerba mate.

What Is Green Tea?

Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, and it is harvested a bit differently than other types of tea. Although Camellia sinensis is also the source of other types of tea, like black and oolong tea, these types of tea don’t extract as many polyphenols. Black tea is the most oxidized of the true treas, which is why it is darker, more caffeinated, and maltier than green tea.

While black tea is stronger in caffeine content than green tea, green tea is known for its high polyphenol content, antioxidants, and a wide range of other benefits. In fact, studies have shown that green tea might have potentially protective effects against certain types of cancers. Its caffeine content can also serve to help people wake up in the morning without as many jitters as coffee.

What Is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate is another type of tea, although it is made from a different plant than other teas. Yerba mate is a South American drink made of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. Traditionally, the leaves of this plant are dried over an open fire or flame and then used to make a tea concoction.

Sharing this drink was seen as a sign of friendship, and it has been a staple in the Guaraní people’s culture of South America since well before the Spanish conquest. Since the 1600s, Spanish influence has spread yerba mate’s popularity all the way to Lebanon. Today, you can find yerba mate in just about any superstore sold in cans.

It’s said to have various health properties, including providing nutrients and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and manganese. Because yerba mate also has a high caffeine content (about 70 mg per cup through the French press method), it can also help boost alertness.

What Green Tea And Yerba Mate Have In Common

By far, the most common trait between these two drinks is that they both contain caffeine and are considered to be natural sources of energy and antioxidants. Both drinks usually have less caffeine than coffee, so they’re good choices for people who want to reduce their caffeine intake.

Structural chemical formula of caffeine molecule with roasted coffee beans. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, psychoactive drug molecule.
Both drinks usually have less caffeine than coffee

In addition, both of these can be drunk iced, or hot, and both have a rich cultural history. They continue to be staples in indigenous populations and continue to also be researched, with new health benefits discovered year after year.

Green Tea Vs. Yerba Mate: The Differences

Green TeaYerba Mate
Found easilyIt might take effort to find
Camellia sinensis plantIlex paraguariensis plant
True tea Considered a tisane or herbal tea
25 mg of caffeine per cupUp to 180 mg of caffeine per cup
Mild aromatic and herbal tasteEarthy and bitter taste
Brewed in tea bagsBrewed in gourd
Origins from AsiaOrigins from South America

What’s Better About Green Tea?

Green tea has many benefits, but its most significant is perhaps its familiar taste. Its popularity in America and worldwide makes it fairly easy to find and consume in everyday shopping.

It also has less caffeine, with about 25 mg per cup, making it a better option for people who are sensitive and jittery to caffeine. You might also be wondering, is green tea matcha?

What’s Better About Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate has, arguably, a much stronger taste and caffeine content. It also contains magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and manganese. While it is by no means an adequate nutritional substitute for everyday vitamins and minerals, it’s a good way to get energized and still have a boost of antioxidants.

Yerba mate, prepared in the traditional way with a gourd and filtered straw, has about 180 mg of caffeine per cup, which is on par with coffee.

Who Should Get Green Tea (And Why)?

Green tea is a household staple, and it can be enjoyed by people who want the benefits of antioxidants and a delicate-tasting tea without bitterness. It’s a good option for people with caffeine sensitivity since it has a low caffeine content or those trying to wean off. It’s also an excellent choice for people who want a morning drink that’s easily accessible.

Hot green tea
It has a low caffeine content for those trying to wean off

Who Should Get Yerba Mate (And Why)?

If you love earthy flavors, yerba mate can be a great choice to start the morning with. This drink, when brewed traditionally, is packed with caffeine, so it should be enjoyed slowly and in moderation.

If you’re someone who loves to explore new drinks and doesn’t mind hunting for a specific grocery item, spend some time finding yerba mate near you. Yerba mate is also a good option for people who are open to trying new flavors and still want to enjoy some benefits with their morning drink. If you liked this post, you might also be wondering what tea is not herbal.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.