Yerba mate is a plant whose leaves are steeped in hot water to make a tea called mate. This tea is thought to have energy-boosting effects and long-term health benefits.
It’s long been a traditional drink in Spain, Portugal, and South America, where it’s consumed in special gourds with a straw.
Yerba mate is a good alternative to coffee or regular tea if you are looking for extra energy, and it could also help with blood lipid levels and weight loss.
Our research team has looked through the best yerba mate products on the market and ranked the top ten.
1. Cruz de Malta Yerba Mate
For true, authentic, loose-leaf yerba mate from Argentina, try Cruz de Malta Yerba Mate. This yerba mate has a stronger, smokier flavor than most, so it’s a great choice if you want a bold flavor profile.
Those looking for a more mild-mannered yerba mate should look elsewhere, but it can’t be beat when it comes to bold and authentic yerba mate.
2. Taragui Yerba Mate
Taragui Yerba Mate is another authentic loose leaf yerba mate product that is imported straight from South America. It has a smooth, more mellow flavor and is very well-suited for everyday consumption.
3. Guayaki Traditional Yerba Mate
When it comes to pre-packaged tea bags of yerba mate, Guayaki Traditional Yerba Mate is a top contender.
Its organically-sourced yerba mate leaves are grown in the rainforests of South America, and users love its earthy, grassy taste. Though some people prefer loose leaf yerba mate, if you like the convenience of tea bags, there’s no better choice.
4. Anna Park Yerba Mate
If you are a bit of a yerba mate novie, Anna Park Yerba Mate might be a good product to start with. It has a very smooth, mellow, and forgiving taste, which is almost comparable to regular tea.
It doesn’t have the bitter smokiness of some of the bolder and more aggressive yerba mate brands, so if you’ve been scared off by these flavor profiles before, give Anna Park Yerba Mate a try instead.
5. Canarias Yerba Mate
Canarias Yerba Mate comes not from Argentina, but from Uruguay. As a result, the flavor profile of this bulk loose-leaf yerba mate is a little different than its competitors.
It’s more potent and more bitter, and the leaves come much more finely divided. Hardcore fans love these qualities, but they can make it more difficult to prepare Canarias Yerba Mate compared to some of the other yerba mate products on the market.
6. Union Suave Yerba Mate
Union Suave is a great brand if you are looking for a traditionally made yerba mate that is also smooth and mellow.
Union Suave is a nice transition into South American preparations of yerba mate, even though more experienced mate drinkers tend to prefer something a little earthier and more bold.
7. Ecoteas Organic Unsmoked Yerba Mate
Ecoteas Organic Unsmoked Yerba Mate is designed to appeal to those who want a more natural and less processed yerba mate.
It’s certified organic and fair trade, and even the manufacturing process is designed to offset its environmental impact.
Long-time devotees of traditional Argentinian yerba mate find the flavor profile of Ecoteas Organic Unsmoked Yerba Mate somewhat different than that of the mainstays in South America, so depending on how close you want to hew to the traditional taste profile, you may or may not like the taste of this product.
8. Kiss Me Organics Yerba Mate
Kiss Me Organics Yerba Mate is certified organic, which is good for those who are looking to minimize possible sources of pesticides in their diet.
When it comes to the taste and quality of Kiss Me Organics Yerba Mate, some users are disappointed at how finely powderized the leaves are.
It can be difficult to avoid getting a silty tea, and the flavor profile is not the same as the traditional South American brews.
9. Guayaki Yerba Mate Enlighten Mint
In addition to its tea bags, Guayaki also makes a pre-steeped and canned yerba mate energy beverage that comes in a can.
You can keep it cold and drink it whenever you need an energy boost. It’s not pure yerba mate; it also contains flavors from peppermint, honey, citric acid, and cane sugar.
These added sweeteners do make it contain quite a lot of sugar, though: each 16 oz can has 28 grams of sugar. This makes it a non-starter if you are going to drink yerba mate daily, or if you want to take advantage of its weight loss potential. It’s okay for an occasional pick-me-up, but that’s about it.
10. US Wellness Naturals Yerba Mate
US Wellness Naturals uses Brazilian yerba mate when manufacturing their yerba mate product. It’s certified organic, and comes in a resealable bag.
However, the packaging and the taste aren’t the most reliable, so while the organic certification is nice to see, there are likely better options out there whatever your needs are.
Who Should Buy Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is safe for adults looking to increase their energy, support weight loss, and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Yerba mate should not be consumed hot due to its risk of cancer.
Pregnant women and children should not consume yerba mate as it is not studied enough in these populations.
How We Ranked
Yerba mate comes in a variety of forms, including pre-canned beverages, powdered tea, and loose-leaf. Canned products, like Guayaki Yerba Mate, were our least popular choice since these products tend to contain a ton of extra sugar, preservatives and are generally less healthy.
Powders and loose-leaf, like Kiss Me Organics and Union Suave, were ranked similarly as they both offer similar benefits. Teabag products, like Guayaki, were ranked a little higher because they offered more flexibility and convenience than other forms.
Purity was also an important factor to consider. Products like Guayaki that had organic certification ranked higher because it eliminated the possibility of excess chemicals and pesticides. Guayaki specifically ranked in our top 3 because they were also fair-trade certified.
Where the product was sourced was not of big concern to us and is more an individual preference, since different locations will provide a slightly different flavor of yerba mate.
Yerba mate benefits and side effects
Yerba mate is used to make mate tea, which is an incredibly popular beverage in served hot in South America. Yerba mate contains both caffeine and theobromine, which have an energy-boosting stimulant effect, which is why you’ll find it as an ingredient in many energy drinks.
In addition, yerba mate contains a number of polyphenolic compounds which act as antioxidants.
Research into the uses of yerba mate has mostly focused on its ability to help with long-term health problems like weight gain, high blood pressure, and other risk factors for chronic disease, though it is also useful for increasing energy levels and alertness as well.
Yerba mate may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Initial research on the biological effects of yerba mate came from studies involving animals.
One such study using rabbits was published in 2006 in the journal Biofactors by researchers in Brazil (1). The study used rabbits that were intentionally fed a high cholesterol diet that induced progressively worse narrowing of the arteries.
Then, some of the rabbits were given yerba mate, while others were not. The researchers found that the rabbits given yerba mate did not have worsening narrowing of their arteries, compared to the rabbits that did not get yerba mate.
Interestingly, the levels of cholesterol in the rabbits who were consuming yerba mate did not decrease, which suggested that yerba mate was halting their progression of cardiovascular disease through a different mechanism.
Yerba mate can improve blood circulation. Later research turned to human volunteers to test how yerba mate affects the cardiovascular system in beneficial ways.
A large trial published in 2015 in the journal Experimental Gerontology recruited 142 older subjects for a human trial on the benefits of yerba mate (2).
All of the subjects in the study had high blood viscosity and as a result, were at risk for cardiovascular disease. Half of the subjects were given yerba mate to drink (5 grams of raw yerba mate plant material per day) while the other half received an inert placebo tea to drink daily.
The subjects were then followed for six weeks. At the study’s conclusion, the authors found that the subjects who had taken yerba mate had improved microcirculation of their blood, which is a beneficial sign for better cardiovascular health.
The subjects who had drank yerba mate also had alterations in their blood levels of certain compounds associated with dilation of blood vessels.
The researchers concluded that yerba mate could be a beneficial intervention for people who want to decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease, though the study was too small and too short to look at the actual progression of cardiovascular disease per se.
Yerba mate could help you lose weight. Yerba mate is gaining popularity as a natural weight loss supplement, in part because its caffeine content has beneficial thermogenic effects. But the benefits of yerba mate for weight loss appear to extend beyond its caffeine content.
One scientific study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics by two researchers in Denmark, looked at whether a supplement preparation based on yerba mate could have beneficial effects for weight loss (3).
The study involved two distinct experiments; the first involved overweight subjects who were randomly assigned to take either the yerba mate based supplement or a placebo, and were followed over the course of 45 days.
The researchers found that the yerba mate supplement was associated with a significant amount of weight loss, even over this short timeframe.
To understand the root of the weight loss effect, the researchers tested how yerba mate affected the rate at which the stomach emptied in seven more subjects.
These subjects drank a controlled amount of apple juice either with the yerba mate supplement or with a placebo, and the researchers used ultrasound imaging to track the rate at which the liquid emptied out of the subjects’s stomach.
The researchers again found a significant effect for yerba mate, which allowed them to draw the conclusion that yerba mate had beneficial effects for weight loss because of its ability to slow the rate at which your stomach empties.
This means that you will feel full after a meal for longer if you’ve also been consuming yerba mate, which will stave off hunger and reduce your caloric intake over time.
Yerba mate is consumed on a daily basis by millions of people in Spain, Portugal, and South America, so its potential for acute or short-term side effects is not much different than that of coffee or tea.
People who are particularly caffeine sensitive may have trouble with the stimulant effects of yerba mate, but you’d run into similar issues with any caffeinated beverage.
More concern has been raised regarding yerba mate’s connection to cancers of the head, neck, and throat. According to one study published in the Pan American Journal of Public Health, a number of epidemiological studies have connected high levels of mate consumption with an increased risk for these cancers (4).
However, several of these studies also showed that the temperature of the mate is a strong modulator of the cancer risk.
Those with the greatest risk for cancer were those who drank their mate the hottest, which suggests that it may be the temperature of the water and not the chemical content, that is associated with the increase in cancer risk.
Other research has focused on the chemical content, and a few compounds in mate may have carcinogenic activity, but the research is not yet clear (5). At low to moderate doses, yerba mate does not appear to have a strong carcinogenic effect.
Scientific studies don’t always use controlled doses of yerba mate tea, because the actual content of active compounds depends on the amount of leaves used, the steep time, and more.
Even so, some research has settled on a daily dose of five grams of yerba mate leaves, steeped in hot water and consumed (ideally not piping hot, for the reasons mentioned above).
This works out, roughly speaking, to one strongly-brewed eight ounce cup of mate every day, though the five gram recommendation is just a starting point―plenty of people in South America use ten times as much when preparing their mate.
Can yerba mate be grown in the US? It might be challenging to grow yerba mate in the United States due to the environment the plant requires to grow. Because yerba mate is more of a tropical plant, it requires a large amount of rainfall and usually thrives when grown near bodies of water.
Growing yerba mate may require you to maintain a more controlled environment when it comes to temperature and humidity, with there being a higher likelihood of success if grown in a greenhouse (or similar controlled structure) that maintains a set temperature and watering schedule.
Where can you purchase yerba mate seeds? Given the fact that the plant is typically grown naturally in South America, you’ll probably have to resort to purchasing the seeds online. It’s also possible to purchase already grown yerba mate plants, but you should consider the distance it will travel from South America and the effects this may have on the plant and its quality.
Can you get addicted to yerba mate? Just like any food, supplement, or beverage, you can begin to develop an addiction to yerba mate after long-term and consistent use. The most common reason yerba mate may be addictive is because of the amount of caffeine found in each serving.
With about 85 milligrams of caffeine per serving, yerba mate has caffeine content similar to tea and coffee, beverages that are known to cause addictions in certain people.
Does yerba mate cause cancer? Directly, no yerba mate doesn’t guarantee cancer in the body. However, consistent long-term use of hot yerba mate provides a greater risk of developing some types of cancer.
Does yerba mate stain your teeth? Generally speaking, the consumption of yerba mate does not stain your teeth or cause other dental issues. Dark tea and coffee, on the other hand, are likely to cause stained teeth if consumed frequently and in larger amounts.
Does yerba mate have side effects? Some of the most common side effects of yerba mate are related to the caffeine included in every serving. When consumed in large amounts (or if you have an intolerance of some sort to caffeine), you may experience the inability to sleep, nervousness, or an increased heart rate. If you have a pre-existing condition like an anxiety disorder, diabetes, high blood pressure, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you might notice that your condition worsens after you begin drinking yerba mate.
Does yerba mate help with obesity? One particular study sought to determine whether there was a link between the consumption of yerba mate and weight in obese individuals. The study concluded that yerba mate might be capable of adjusting gene expression within the body to a normal state after they were previously changed by obesity. Though yerba mate will not cure obesity, this study shows it can be a useful tool in fighting obesity (5).
Does yerba mate help with CVD? Other studies have researched the role yerba mate may play in the development or prevention of cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 Diabetes. When observing the effects of yerba mate on study participants, scientists discovered that consumption of yerba mate in amounts of more than one liter per day resulted in a lower risk of coronary disease, hypertension, and high blood glucose levels (6).
When studied in laboratory mice, the consumption of yerba mate caused lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels in the blood. This study opens the door for using yerba mate to treat conditions like obesity and diabetes (7). Yerba mate is also high in antioxidants and can improve bone density, assist in weight management, and improve the functioning of the heart.
Is it safe to drink yerba mate every day? When consumed cold, there are very few risks of drinking yerba mate on a daily basis. However, you should take into account the amount of caffeine in the beverage and limit your intake accordingly. Hot yerba mate can be extremely dangerous long-term, with evidence suggesting it may lead to the development of some types of cancer. It is recommended that you do not consume hot yerba mate for these reasons.
Can you smoke yerba mate? Yerba mate should not be smoked. Those who have attempted to smoke yerba mate in the past experienced mostly adverse reactions, including difficulty breathing, dizziness, and overall discomfort. The effects of smoking yerba mate have also not been studied, and the actual effects you may experience are unknown as of now.
Is yerba mate carbonated? In its natural form, yerba mate is not carbonated, but it can be purchased in the form of a carbonated beverage. There are several products on the market like sparkling yerba mate and yerba mate soda that provide a carbonated effect while still supplying you with the benefits of yerba mate.
Is yerba mate an energy drink? Yerba mate is not advertised as an energy drink, but it can provide some of the same effects that energy drinks give consumers. The reason behind this is the caffeine found in yerba mate is at a level similar to coffee and tea. When consumed in larger servings (more than one cup at a time), you may begin to feel an increase in energy, heart palpitations, or jitteriness. These effects are similar to those of energy drinks because the primary ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. Given this information, yerba mate can produce similar side effects of energy drinks, but they are not the same.
Does yerba mate need to be refrigerated? Yerba mate does not need to be refrigerated when stored if it’s in powder form. Similar to regular tea, yerba mate does not expire or go rancid quickly. Unless you are in a humid environment where there is a risk of physical effects to yerba mate, you can store the yerba mate in the bag it came in. Yerba mate typically has an expiration date of two years after production and should be stored in a cool, dry location for optimal quality and taste.
If you’re purchasing the yerba mate as an already pre-made beverage (canned or bottled), you can refrigerate the container if you prefer a colder beverage, but this is not required. Like most canned and bottled beverages, the only time you would have to refrigerate yerba mate is if you already opened the container.
How do you make yerba mate? If you’re not purchasing yerba mate in the form of a canned or bottled beverage, you can make yerba mate similar to the way you would make tea or coffee. In South America, many locals prepare yerba mate by placing the leaves from the plant in a pot or pan and add hot water. After letting the drink sit for a little while, the drink is safe to consume. Some prefer replacing the hot water with cold water and ice, though this is all about personal preference. There are also other traditional methods of yerba mate preparation that involves gourds and bombillas, but it’s unlikely that you will use this method to prepare yerba mate at home.
In the United States, it is more common to make yerba mate using the powdered form. In this form, you can use the yerba mate with a coffee maker, mix it with cold water to create an iced tea type of beverage.
What does yerba mate taste like? In its natural form, many describe the drink as bitter with robust flavor. If you’re uninterested in yerba mate in its natural form or were unimpressed by its taste, yerba mate is often sold in other flavors. These flavors often include lemon, berries, oranges, and other types of fruit. However, these flavors are usually sold in the form of prepackaged bottled or canned beverages and not powder.
How much caffeine is in yerba mate? There are an estimated 85 milligrams of caffeine per cup of yerba mate tea, which is slightly less than the average cup of coffee. With that said, consuming large amounts of yerba mate may lead to high levels of caffeine in the body, so you should monitor your intake and watch for side effects.
Can kids drink yerba mate? Yerba mate should not be consumed by children for several reasons. The first reason is the amount of caffeine that is found in the beverage. At 85 milligrams per serving, this would be the equivalent of a child drinking a cup of coffee. When caffeine is consumed by young children, it can cause sleep disturbances and headaches, among other side effects.
Another reason children should avoid yerba mate is because it is still relatively understudied. Many studies have linked yerba mate consumption to an increased risk of cancer, which should be good enough of a reason to avoid giving the drink to your children.
Can yerba mate increase the risk of cancer? Though not entirely confirmed as of yet, some organizations and medical professionals theorize that drinking hot yerba mate can increase the risk of developing cancer. Researchers noted that while there is a higher possibility of getting cancer due to yerba mate, the risk is usually greatest when yerba mate is consumed long-term, in large amounts, and at hotter temperatures.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be no added risk of developing cancer when the yerba mate consumed is cold. Some believe that the temperature of the yerba mate may contribute to increased metabolic reactions, which, in turn, may increase the risk of cancer formation (8).
If you are interested in consuming yerba mate but are concerned with the risk of cancer, the suggestion would be to consume cold yerba mate.
What is yerba mate? Yerba mate is a plant found in the areas of South America. The most common method of yerba mate consumption is as a beverage, with the leaves of the plant being combined with hot (or cold, less commonly) water to make a tea-like drink.
Though yerba mate is most common in its native South America, it has recently become more prevalent in other countries like the United States.
Where can you buy yerba mate? Yerba mate is most commonly found in health and wellness stores across the country but is also available on websites like Amazon and Walmart. With the introduction of services like Instacart, you can also have yerba mate delivered to your home on the same day you order it.
Yerba mate is an herbal compound that can be steeped in hot water and consumed for health benefits that range from improvements in cardiovascular health to weight loss.
Its heart health benefits appear to come at least in part from its ability to improve circulation in the blood vessels, and its ability to slow or halt narrowing of arteries.
With regards to weight loss, yerba mate reduces the rate at which your stomach empties, which means you will stave off hunger for longer and will consume fewer calories. On top of this, yerba mate has a high caffeine content, which also creates a strong thermogenic effect.
The only potential side effects of yerba mate may be an increased risk for head, neck, and throat cancer, though this risk is not strong unless you drink quite a lot of yerba mate every day, and some research indicates that it is the temperature of the yerba mate, not necessarily its chemical content, that may be responsible for this increased cancer risk.
Keeping this in mind, a reasonable starting place for dosage, based on scientific research, seems to be five grams of yerba mate per day, steeped in hot water and allowed to cool slightly.
Traditional yerba mate consumption typically involves much more raw material than this, however. In any case, yerba mate has a range of benefits, from its physical and mental energy boost to heart health and weight loss benefits.
For Body Nutrition’s #1 yerba mate recommendation, click here.