We all know of green tea. It’s been called the Elixir of Life and has been hailed as a powerful medicinal herb for thousands of years. It’s good stuff. There’s no doubt about that. And when you compare it to the highly acidic and toxic coffee, it’s a no-brainer that green tea is the healthier option. With less caffeine and a healthy stack of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and compounds that restore life and give you energy, green tea is truly a powerhouse of health and wellbeing.
Green Tea vs Yerba Mate
But surely you’ve heard of yerba mate, right? Oh, no? Not really? Well I can’t blame you. I only found yerba mate a few years ago. It’s the green tea of South America and the best kept secret of the past 100 years—I kid you not. If green tea is the Elixir of Life, well, yerba mate is the Drink of the Gods.
In 2009 I started drinking yerba mate while living in Argentina, the world capital of yerba mate. The average Argentine mate drinker happily consumes about 2 liters of mate per day; even children enjoy it. Like green tea, yerba mate is a medicinal herb that share many common health attributes. However, strictly speaking, yerba mate isn’t from the tea plant (camellia sinensis); it’s from a holly plant native to Paraguay, Argentina, Southern Brazil, and Uruguay (ilex paraguariensis).
Consumed for millennia by the ancient Guarani Tribes, yerba mate has been used as a communal and medicinal drink for a long time; even before the Spanish begun forcing them to grow mate as a multimillion dollar cash crop of the time (1600–1850). It was used as the basis of all medicine, as well as a drink that invariably provided an unlimited source of natural energy.
The Guarani actually prayed to the “God of Yerba Mate.” Traditionally, it’s drunk from a hollowed squash plant (also called a “mate” or gourd) and a metal straw with a filter (called a bombilla) that’s placed inside the gourd to draw up freshly steeped hot water that’s been infused with the herb. Sounds a bit cumbersome, but it’s really easy when you get the hang of it. (Here’s a video showing you how to prepare yerba mate.) Nowadays, yerba mate can be consumed exactly like green tea, using a frenchpress or infuser to prepare yerba mate or using some yerba mate tea bags. It’s a truly fascinating herb.
Yerba Mate and Green Tea have these things in common:
- High antioxidant capacity; reduce oxidative stress
- High amounts of minerals and vitamins (potassium, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, nitrogen, etc. Vitamins A, C, E etc.)
- Promote healthy Gastrointestinal Tract (GI)
- Improve digestion
- Promote healthy heart
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase cognition and mental clarity
- Help regulate glucose levels for Type 2 Diabetes
- Anti-obesity; Enhances fat metabolism
- Good source of natural energy (with the aid of caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline)
- Promote weight loss
- Fight and prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density
As you can see, the green tea vs yerba mate analysis shows that these two herbs are just about neck and neck. But! Hold on just a moment… There are some critical differences that clearly distinguish these herbs in their healing capacities.
Is Yerba Mate better than Green Tea?
Let me start with the simple answer: yes. Actually, it’s a resounding, emphatic, confident, YES! Though both plants offer a wide array of health benefits, yerba mate is more effective and efficient. And why is this? Because of the concentration of mate’s antioxidants compared to green tea’s. In fact, mate’s unique combination of healing compounds are so starkly different than any other tea, that most scientists currently studying these herbs admit that they still don’t know exactly how mate can be so effective. The research continues.
Polyphenolic compounds found in Mate tea differ significantly from green tea because Mate tea contains high concentration of chlorogenic acid and no catechins.
—De Mejia Gonzalez, 2004; Toxicology Scientist
In particular, yerba mate contains high concentrations of Chlorogenic Acid (the same acid that the health world has been buzzing about lately; namely in respect to green coffee beans); green tea is a very poor source of Chlorogenic Acid, (if even a source at all).
Health Benefits of Chlorogenic Acid
Since yerba mate has such a high concentration of Chlorogenic Acid, it’s able to be highly effective with the following:
- Reduce and attack cancer cells
- Destroy bacteria
- Clear the arteries; promote healthy heart
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Help with Diabetes
Yerba Mate also has a group of compounds called Saponins and Caffeoylquinic Acids (CQAs)
These compounds act as the turbo-booster for yerba mate; they are the fuels that ignite yerba mate’s unusually high antioxidant capacity. Moreover, these compounds play major roles in mate’s ability to be effective against inflammation and weight loss. Green tea is losing the race on this track.
Yerba Mate has more active chemicals than green tea
Among the 196 volatile chemicals found in yerba mate tea, only 144 are present in green tea.
—Kawakami and Kobayashi, 1991
Yerba mate has over 50 more chemicals than green tea. Yes, 50 more! Apart from the additional boost in healing properties you get from drinking yerba mate instead of green tea, these chemicals give depth to mate’s exquisiteness; they offer a rich set of flavors and aromas that firmly place mate in the class of luxury items such as wine, whisky, crafted beers, and gourmet foods. Any seasoned yerba mate drinker knows that drinking a fine variety of mate is quite an experience.
Green Tea and Yerba Mate Effective Against Cancer
Green tea has a compound called EGCG, which is an extremely potent antioxidant. EGCG has, heretofore, been green tea’s ace in the hole. It’s been shown to be effective against cancer as well as helping to decrease bad cholesterol. However, EGCG, when placed on the table with yerba mate’s 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, begins to look more like a Golden Parachute than a panacea.
Contrary to the reported carcinogenic properties of Mate, there are scientifically backed reports of anticancer effects. Mate tea has been shown to have high cytotoxicity for cancer cells, which is even higher than that of green tea.
—De Mejia Gonzalez, 2007
In conclusion, though green tea is still a viable option as a healthy drink that calms the body while providing an abundance of antioxidants, it can’t be denied that yerba mate is the winner here.
The Feeling of Euphoria for Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is not only healthier, but with it also comes a surge of spectacular euphoria, mental clarity, and wellbeing that cannot be obtained with the finest of green teas—and certainly not with harsh, acidic coffee.
That alone is worth further investigation into yerba mate. The ability to de-fog your mind, feel amazing, AND (and that’s a BIG “and”) know that you’re drinking the most powerful herb on the planet Earth…well now, doesn’t that make you want to have a sip right now?
Here’s a short video discussing the health benefits of yerba mate:
In order to reap the full health benefits of yerba mate, it’s recommend that you drink at least 4 cups per day. With the aid of a frenchpress or yerba mate tea bags, it’s never been easier to feel energized and stay healthy. Visit our yerba mate store and see what this herb can do for you.
- The Green Tea Book, Lester A. Mitscher, Ph.D., 1998.
- Yerba Mate Tea: A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications,
and Technological Considerations, E.G. De Mejia, 2007.
- Contributions to the quality control of two major crops of economic importance:
hops and yerba mate, Erica Georgina Wilson, 2012.