Both are healthy but...
... there are a few key details that may make you want to opt for one tea over the other. To be as clear as possible, both these types of tea are exquisite and beneficial to our bodies, minds and spirits as can be, but for the discerning among us, we will compare and contrast these two like there's no tomorrow! Some of the key differences includes the amino acids and compounds each one has to offer as well as how they are prepared and enjoyed, among other cool and nuanced traits.
Matcha has its start in Medieval China. The tradition started when tea drinkers would break and crack their tea leaves, which came in dry bricks at the time, over their tea bowls. They would then use a brush like utensil to whip and stir their broken and pulverized leaves into the hot water. Over time, more finesse as well as a deep connection to Zen Buddhism developed and elevated the drink into the solemn and serene tea ceremony drink we know it as today. It comes from the camellia sinensis plant, is high in caffeine and is made from the pulverized leaves of specially grown green tea plants. It is prepared by adding a small amount of hot water and matcha powder to a bowl and whisking and whipping the mix with a special bamboo brush.
Yerba Mate comes from the Ilex holly plant. it has been consumed as a spiritual drink and health tonic by the Guarani and other indigenous groups of the Amazon for centuries, much longer than matcha has. It was adopted by the Spanish who turned it into a cash crop and spread its cultivation around their colonies in South America. It is traditionally consumed in a calabash gourd with a stainless steel or silver straw known as a bombilla.
So among the similarities these drinks have include their caffeine levels, their antioxidants, their unique method of preparation and the long association they have had with mental, physical and spiritual prowess with both beverages being consumed by Japanese Samurai and Amazon warriors alike. And while matcha requires a bowl and a whisk as well as potentially half a dozen other utensils, so too does yerba mate usually require a gourd and a bombilla straw. So these two teas are quite the pair.
But similarities aside, let us take a look at some of the differences in regards to the health benefits both teas provide. And we can also be able to parse out which ones they each don't have!
Yerba Mate's health benefits
Yerba mate is a fantastic health tonic. It contains theophylline and theobromine. These amino acids help us feel calm and happy which helps to balance out the jittery or aggressive feelings we may normally have with caffeine. Mate is low in calories and provides a heap of vitamins and minerals. Mate also contains slightly more caffeine per ounce than matcha does. Mate can also reduce blood pressure and can help cut down on bad cholesterol. Mate curbs our appetites and helps to supplement our energy, keeping fatigue at bay. Mate helps speed up and ease digestion while also helping us to feel full, which works wonders for those trying to cut down on their waistlines.
Matcha's health benefits
Matcha is no slouch in the health department, though! Vitamins and minerals abound such as zinc, potassium and vitamin C. Matcha can also help to cut back on bad cholesterol and provides all the benefits of whole leaf green tea including promoting heart health and tons of antioxidants. Matcha has the L-theanine compound which leads to a calm and aware effect from its caffeine doses rather than a jittery, heart pounding or aggressive feeling and certainly no caffeine crash. Matcha can help fight inflammation and can potentially even prevent the development of certain types of cancer, a trait matcha also shares with yerba mate. Matcha can even help keep our skin and teeth clear of acne and plaque build up. Matcha aids in preventing or decreasing weight gain. A special compound in matcha helps to burn fat and keep fat off, too. Because matcha is a powder that can be whisked and frothed to different consistencies it is more versatile than yerba mate. Matcha can be used in other foods, confections and even as a skin care mask. We don't suggest trying that last one with yerba mate, though it may be an interesting story if one did try!
Enjoying two incredible teas
Both these teas offer up some great weight loss benefits, potential cancer fighting powers, high levels of caffeine and health-preserving antioxidants. They differ a bit in regards to the specific vitamins and nutrients they have as well as their special compounds. While matcha has L-theanine, yerba mate is rich in theobromine and theophylline. Both forms of tea are traditionally prepared with specialized utensils alongside them. But it is matcha that has the potential to be used for many other purposes, both culinary and non-culinary in the form of skin treatment and facial masks.
But the real question is...
...the taste bud factor! Both of these teas are known for their famously strong tastes. These flavors are either acquired or can push novice drinkers away with a sip! But this is the real deciding factor between these two marvelous teas. Do you like the aesthetic of the gourd and bombilla straw? A hint of South American suave ease? Or do you prefer the contemplative study and meditation that comes with measuring out your matcha powder, whisking and whipping it, and taking prolonged and tranquil sips from your matcha bowl? Luckily, between these two great teas, you cannot go wrong! So choose carefully, but don't sweat either choice you make, as a world of antioxidants, caffeine and good vibes are sure to follow.