David vs Goliath; Ali vs Fraser; Batman vs Superman…mate vs matcha tea.
They’re both healthy alternatives to the onslaught of caffeine brought on by coffee. Actually, a lot of people who make the switch wish they had done it WAY sooner. But which one is right for you? This guide will help you read the tea leaves of all the hype around matcha and mate tea...
This guide covers:
OK, let the clash of the TEAtans commence. Release the catechins…
Are Yerba Mate and Matcha Tea the Same Thing?
NO, yerba mate and matcha tea are two completely different things.
Matcha is a powder from the Far East that you mix with water and mate is the dried, crushed leaves and twigs of a rainforest plant native to South America.
Origins - Where do Mate and Matcha Come From?
These 2 drinks originated on opposite ends of the Earth, and both are intricately interwoven into the social fabrics of their societies:
Yerba Mate: Mate is from South America where the drink has deep roots in local social life (it predates European colonization). These days, it’s the most popular drink in Paraguay and Uruguay, where you can see people strolling down the street with termos (thermoses) full of mate. It’s so intricately woven into their society that many social activities are built around passing a gourd full of mate among friends.
Did You Know?: Uruguay is the largest consumer of yerba mate on Earth. The annual per capita consumption is 22 pounds (10 kg) PER PERSON!
Matcha: More than a thousand years ago, the Buddhists of the Chinese Song Dynasty had a brilliant idea—why not pulverize tea leaves, mix them with boiling water, and build rituals around them? Matcha was then brought to Japan in the late 12th century, where it is still the center of the traditional “tea ceremony” in Japanese culture.
Matcha is insanely easy to prepare. It’s basically instant happiness. Throw some powder in a cup, mix it with water, and you’re good to go. We still don’t know why it costs $5 at Starbucks.
(of course the "proper" way to prepare matcha involves a ritual that takes some time, but it's not necessary if you just want a boost of energy)
Mate is easy too. It just takes a bit longer. Pour some hot water over dried leaves and let it steep like you would any tea.
Seriously, it’s that easy.
Caffeine: Yerba Mate vs Matcha vs Coffee
Coffee helps us all extend that important “haven’t killed anyone yet” streak, but the costs of your version of “Making a Murderer” never making it to air are steep (shame, he seemed like such a nice boy too…).
Millions are turning to matcha and yerba mate for the clean, long-lasting murder avoidance of coffee WITHOUT the crash, headaches, and heart palpitations.
But how does the caffeine content of mate and matcha stack up against your beloved black gold?
Here’s what we discovered from CaffeineInformer:
This is based on 8 ounce servings (approx 236 ml).
**caffeine content varies by distributor**
Since matcha is either served thick (think of this as a double espresso) or thin (for the weaklings), the caffeine content varies widely. Estimates range from 25 mg in one serving to up to 70 mg. Generally, it’s about HALF that of coffee.
Mate has more caffeine than matcha (about 85 mg) per serving. Again, estimates and ranges vary, but it’s still quite a bit less than coffee.
The Difference in Caffeine of Matcha/Mate and Coffee
Picture this: It’s 11 AM, your eyes are heavy, your brain feels like 2 sunny side up eggs on high heat, and just the sound of your boss’ voice TRIGGERS rage (you still don’t know how they got promoted over you). Yeah, caffeine might keep you out of prison, but the crash might be worse than 25 to life (it’s not. Don’t go to jail).
In contrast, it’s regularly reported that caffeine from matcha or yerba mate provides long-lasting, clean energy throughout the day. You benefit from being more energetic, alert, and focused for longer and without the crash.
It’s all comes down to the nutrients in tea vs coffee.
Coffee is basically liquid caffeine. It sends your brain into a dopamine-induced frenzy all for the price of about 5 calories. That’s why you feel “WIRED.” But, it doesn’t come with much else in the vitamins or minerals department.
Teas like mate or matcha, on the other hand, are full of antioxidants and other nutrients that effectively slow the release of caffeine in the body. So instead of getting a cold-brew turbo blast of caffeine followed by a fiery crash, the pleasing medley of nutrition in these teas lets your body gently absorb caffeine throughout the day, even though the energy and alertness are effective immediately.
Speaking of all those awesome nutrients, you need to know what’s in these drinks so you can get maximum benefits throughout the day….
Nutrition Facts: Matcha vs Mate
Both mate and matcha are rich in nutrients and low in calories, meaning they promote everything from a healthy waistline to a healthy heart.
Mate is also a significant source of chlorogenic acid, a compound responsible for glucose and lipid metabolism with major antioxidant and antibacterial benefits . That means mate could have major implications for everything from your teeth to your waist.
Matcha is another antioxidant powerhouse that could protect against damage from free radicals—evil, unstable atoms that cause damage to cells, lead to aging, and contribute to certain diseases.
Each gram of matcha has roughly 1,350 ORAC units (the measurement of antioxidants in a substance). That means matcha is a better source of antioxidants than ANY FRUIT OR VEGETABLE.
In one study, mice fed a diet of matcha (compared to 6 other diets) had significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and matcha was also linked to the promotion of antioxidant activities .
Matcha also contains vitamin C, zinc, and potassium.
But one thing matcha has that makes mate GREEN WITH ENVY is catechins, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
How do Catechins Work and Why Should You Be Excited?
Every cell in your body contains DNA, the blueprint for all living things. Oxidative stress (free radicals attacking your cells) slowly damages your genetic programming. As your cells get damaged, you get wrinkly, shrivel up, and rent a nice coffin for eternity (#GRIM).
So, how do catechins make you immortal? Well, they don’t. But green tea catechins have shown promising results on reducing oxidative stress, especially oxidative DNA damage . The less oxidative damage, the longer your DNA stays healthy and the longer your face stays wrinkle-free.
Did you know: Matcha has 137x more catechins than regular green tea .
OK, so we’ve established that both matcha and mate are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and that both are low calorie and full of clean energy, so what about all those other benefits vegans keep screaming about on social media?
They’re onto a lot more than you think…
Matcha vs Mate: Energy, Weight Management, and More
Since both matcha and mate are green tea, they could hold powerful benefits for your six-pack (coming soon), brain, and even skin.
Both are low-calorie drinks that provide a boost in energy, so it’s easy to see how they can help promote healthy weight. However, the benefits for your waistline might be even more powerful. Check out a few of these green tea studies:
- Green Tea Can Help Obese Adults Control Weight: In one meta-analysis of 14 weight-loss trials, obese adults who consumed green tea extract lost an average of 0.2 - 3.5 kg MORE than those in the control group .
- Green Tea May Help Burn Fat: In another study involving healthy men, two groups ingested green tea extract (GTE) or a placebo during moderate exercise. The GTE oxidized 17% MORE fat .
- Matcha May Help Increase Energy Expenditure and Burn More Fat: Good news for people who want to get more out of the gym every session. In a double-blind study of 14 people, the group that took 200 mg of encapsulated green tea extract, guarana extract, and various amounts of EGCG (remember, that’s only in matcha) increased energy expenditure by 750 Kj. That’s nearly 200 calories, meaning the average subject burned the equivalent of half an apple smothered in peanut butter just from the same mixture found in matcha + guarana.
Matcha and yerba mate have long been prized for their ability to sharpen the senses, but is there anything to it?
As it turns out, there is…
Matcha and Cognition: One study showed that subjects who either drank matcha or ate a matcha tea bar (drooooll) performed better on cognitive tasks and displayed increased psychomotor speed .
Yerba Mate and Cognition: Research has shown that mate’s effects on adenosine receptors could lead to improved cognitive function. Mate had a positive effect on short and long-term memory in laboratory rats when they were evaluated on social memory and step-down inhibitory avoidance acts (tasks where rats need to figure out how to get food from a box) .
These are some of the top proven benefits of caffeine in all forms (remember, no jail time).
Just a quick aside, both matcha and mate are used around the world by millions as a skin care product. They’re both rich in antioxidants, and green tea has powerful anti-inflammatory powers . This means there’s a good chance green tea could help benefit everything from acne to cellulite.
EGCG (ONLY IN MATCHA), has proven even more effective. EGCG has been directly linked to increased moisturization, skin antioxidation, and anti-wrinkling . This could be proof that the millions of people around the world rubbing green powder on their faces are actually onto something.
Matcha vs Yerba Mate: Which is Better?
The clash of the TEAtans ends with matcha on top, simply due to its massive catechin count and its proven benefits. That, and we just prefer the taste and ease of preparing it.
You can’t go wrong with either, though! If you’re looking for take your mental acuity to the next level along with the other health benefits mentioned here, make sure to take a look at our matcha capsules - MatchaMax.
Updated: June 22, 2023