What’s the Difference Between Yerba Mate and Matcha?

In the world of delicious and healthy alternatives to coffee, there are two major contenders: yerba mate and matcha. Both are green drinks derived from plants that contain caffeine and both are common ingredients in a number of healthy smoothies and beverages. But what are each of these ingredients, what do they taste like, and how is best to enjoy them? Let’s go through each.

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate is a plant that is found deep in South America. Most yerba mate drinks distill their flavor from both the leaves and stem of this incredible plant, which is grown all over the continent. Like coffee, yerba mate has naturally-occurring caffeine, which has made it a popular drink in both its native continent and, more recently, across the globe.

Yerba mate has a strong, earthy taste not unlike green tea. Some say it smells and taste a little like camphor and eucalyptus, which are both found in Vick’s, for those unfamiliar. In general, people find it to not be as intense a flavor as some of the stronger coffees out there, landing somewhere between coffee and tea.

What is Matcha?

Matcha, by contrast, is powdered green tea. The process of using powdered green tea leaves can be traced back to Ancient China, although it is now commonly associated with Japan.

Despite being the same plant as green tea, matcha differs a little. For one, farmers growing tea leaves for matcha tend to cover the plants in the month before their harvest. This causes the plant to increase its chlorophyll production, leading to a darker color and an increase in amino acids.

Matcha differs quite a bit from yerba mate in taste, having a grassy sweetness that differs from the woody earthiness of yerba mate.

How to Enjoy Yerba Mate and Matcha

One of the great things about yerba mate is that you can enjoy it in any number of ways. If you want to be traditional about it, you can enjoy it as a tea, served in a gourd with a straw. This is how many people across the globe take their yerba mate every day.