How Does Yerba Mate Differ from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay & Paraguay?

Back to articles

How Does Yerba Mate Differ from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay & Paraguay?

One of the most popular drinks across South America, yerba mate (a.k.a. the Ilex paraguariensis plant) is now a worldwide phenomenon. At this point, there's a good chance you know what yerba mate is, and there's a good chance you've probably tried yerba mate tea, too!

What you might not know is that there are different varieties of yerba mate, which come from various regions in South America. Is your yerba mate from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, or Paraguay? This is important to know, since the origin of the yerba can impact the tea's consistency/texture, taste, smell, strength, and effects!

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the different types of yerba mate, and to find out which one you like most!

The 1-2-3 on Yerba Mate Tea

Yerba mate is one of the most popular drinks to come from South America. The leaves, stems, and twigs of the plant are processed, making a delicious yerba mate tea. Some people still make yerba mate tea at home, while others take advantage of ready-to-drink yerba-infused beverages, like our Mate Libre drinks sold across Canada and the United States.

Yerba mate is slightly different throughout the various yerba producing regions of South America. This means that the yerba mate tea will have varying colour, taste, and strength (i.e., energy-boost) depending on the tea's country of origin. Also, there are different ways of preparing yerba mate tea across the various South American countries. The 4 main types of yerba mate are Argentinian, Paraguayan, Uruguayan, and Brazilian.

Drinking mate has shown to be a great energy booster and has a wide range of health benefits. For many, mate drinking is a wise and healthy alternative to energy drinks, green tea, and even coffee. For others, mate is an important part of family gatherings, culture, and social activities.

No matter the time or the place, you'll find people all over the world drinking mate!

Argentinian Yerba Mate

Argentina yerba mate is probably the most popular type of yerba mate, and the most commonly imported mate into Canada and the United States. Argentinian yerba mate can be strong or mild, and varies in taste. This type of yerba mate typically has a lot of leaves and twigs and stems. Also, Argentinians tend to add spices, herbs, and even orange peel to their tea to alter the taste.

Argentinians tend to drink yerba mate from a calabash gourd using a bombilla (metal straw) to filter out some of the larger pieces of yerba. The yerba mate is typically prepared at home using boiling hot water from a kettle. If you're a beginner who wants to brew yerba mate tea at home, Argentinian yerba is probably your best option since it is the easiest to prepare and arguably has the best taste.

Paraguayan Yerba Mate

Paraguayan yerba mate is similar to Argentinian mate in terms of texture and consistency, with many twigs, leaves, and stems making up the tea mixture. The taste of Paraguayan yerba mate is much more bold and complex compared to other teas, and can include sweet, bitter, salty, and even sour tastes. On its own, Paraguayan yerba mate is definitely an acquired taste.

Because of the complex taste of Paraguayan yerba mate, there is a version of the drink called tereré (the country's national drink), which is much sweeter and more appetizing. Making this drink is easy: first you brew the tea, then you add fruit juice (and maybe add sugar too), and then you enjoy! Importantly, unlike the Argentinian method of peparing mate, Paraguayan mate tends to be prepared with cold water instead of hot water. Many Paraguayans consume mate from a horned cup called a guampa.

Uruguayan Yerba Mate

Uruguayan yerba mate is much different in texture compared to Argentinian and Paraguayan mate, in that Uruguayan mate consists of tiny leaves and dust, with almost no stems to be found in the tea mixtures. This makes the tea harder to prepare for beginners.

Despite not producing any yerba mate in the country, Uruguayans are the biggest consumers of yerba mate in South America. You can expect to see Uruguayans with thermoses of mate under their arms, taking drinks of the delicious tea no matter where they are. Uruguayans are the most traditional mate drinkers in that they rarely add any herbs, spices, or other ingredients to their mate.

Brazilian Yerba Mate

Brazilian yerba mate, also called chimarrão or erva mate, consists of almost neon green looking dust from finely ground leaves. Unlike other countries who tend to age their yerba mate, Brazilian yerba mate is fresh, hence the bright colour of the loose tea. Compared to the other three yerba mate teas described above, Brazilian yerba mate is the most difficult to compare due to its dust-like consistency.

Difficult preparation aside, Brazilian yerba mate is arguably the best tasting of the four. This type of yerba mate is usually consumed in a calabash gourd that is bigger and has a rounder shape compared to gourds from other countries. Plus, Brazilian yerba drinkers tend to use a bombilla with a smaller filter to avoid getting the straw clogged with yerba.

At Mate Libre, we use Brazilian yerba to make our delicious drinks. Importantly, the yerba we use at Mate Libre is air-dried rather than smoke-dried. It’s this aspect of the tea’s processing that contributes to the great taste of this incredible Brazilian yerba. Plus, air-dried yerba is healthier than smoke-dried yerba, too!

A Better Way to Drink Mate? Try Mate Libre!

Nowadays, drinking mate is easy, and because of that, yerba mate consumption has taken off in recent years. 

But do you really need a traditional gourd and bombilla to consume good quality yerba mate? The answer is NO! Mate Libre yerba mate is a cold ready-to-drink beverage that will have you wishing you gave up coffee, tea, and energy drinks years ago!

With a variety of delicious flavours to choose from, including Rose & Hibiscus, Mint & Lime, Passion, Ginger, and Original, you can't go wrong! Perfect for a mid-day/mid-week pick-me-up or to mix with a cocktail come the weekend, Mate Libre is as versatile as it is delicious.

Sure, you could make your own mate drink at home, or you could grab an ice cold can of Mate Libre yerba mate energy infusion and leave your typical caffeinated beverage for next time.

It's not an energy drink with tons of synthetic ingredients, and its not kombucha either. Mate Libre yerba mate is in a league of its own, and you need only one taste to know exactly why.

Not sure where to start? Check out our delicious range of Mate Libre yerba mate products today. Which flavour is your favourite?


Strategies for Sustaining High Levels of Focus in School

Strategies for Sustaining High Levels of Focus in School

Learn more
Yerba Mate vs Matcha: The Differences and Similarities

Yerba Mate vs Matcha: The Differences and Similarities

Learn more