Best Yerba Mate for Beginners

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Yerba mate is an acquired taste. For most people (myself included) mate seemed overwhelming, bitter and strong at first, which may lead to disappointment and loss of interest. That’s why it is important to start with a right yerba mate that can be enjoyed even by a novice; yerba mate that will introduce those earthy herbal flavors to an unprepared palate; yerba mate that will make you fall in love with this complex and healthy infusion.

So, you found out about yerba mate — maybe you read an article in a health magazine or saw a celebrity on social media drinking mate with cool but alien-looking gourd and bombilla. It piqued your interest, you searched online and found a community of people passionate about yerba mate that made you want to join them and try it as well. Or maybe your friend or a loved one saw you drinking mate and showed interest in your hobby and lifestyle.


My first sip of mate


The first time I tried mate I didn’t experience any pleasure. The taste of that first sip was bitter and disgusting — it seemed that I was drinking a mixture of strong green tea, coffee and a cheap cigarette. I was disappointed because I liked what I read about the benefits of mate and its cultural role.

Somebody recommended me to start off with PiporĂ© Con Palo, so I decided to grab a 1 kilo bag of this yerba mate and drink it daily no matter what, until two weeks later I realised that I am actually looking forward to my daily mate and really enjoy it.

Years later, I still think that Piporé Con Palo is a great yerba mate to start your journey with, but it’s not the only option out there. In this article I will share my personal top 5 yerbas for new mate drinkers.



In my opinion, it’s best to start with Argentine yerba mate, because I would say that the majority of yerbas from Argentina are on the lighter and sweeter side, compared to other regional varieties. Most of the Paraguayan yerba mate, on the other hand, is smoked and too strong for beginners. Brazilian erva is really hard to prepare without proper tools and techniques, and Uruguayan yerba mate may be too full-bodied and bold for an unprepared palate.

There are actually a lot of newbie-friendly Argentine yerba mates on the market that are naturally sweet, light, unsmoked and not overly bitter. However, I decided to narrow down this list to 5 yerbas that are not too complex, light to medium-bodied and not super similar to each other, offering something unique and distinctive.


Piporé Con Palo

This classical Argentine con palo yerba mate is great, well-balanced and soothing. It has a pleasant smell, taste and finish, well suited for both hot and cold brewing. As I mentioned earlier, this was the first yerba mate that I really loved and definitely is one of my favorites. PiporĂ© Con Palo for me will forever associate with that classical Argentine flavor, that made me really fall in love with that beautiful drink. Read the rest of the review to find out more about this yerba mate.

Piporé Con Palo

Piporé Con Palo
Reviewed

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Piporé Con Palo

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Playadito Con Palo

At a first glance Playadito Con Palo may seem like another ordinary con palo yerba mate, but it cannot be further from the truth. It boasts one of the longest durability that you can experience in the world of Argentine yerba mate, along with naturally very sweet taste to satisfy your sweet tooth, and long pleasant finish. Read the rest of the review to find out more about Playadito Con Palo.

Playadito Con Palo

Playadito Con Palo
Reviewed

Available from multiple sellers

Playadito Con Palo

5 Offers Available:

Free worldwide shipping on qualified orders.

North America and Europe shipping. Amazon Prime available.

10% off the whole order! Worldwide shipping available.

Use code MateExperience10 for 10% off the whole order!

Free shipping to EU and UK on orders over PLN 120.

Liebig Original

Another sweet yum by Cooperativa Liebig — this time more subtle, delicate and fragile, like the first flower in the beginning of the spring. Light, sweet and floral flavors will reward patient and skillful cebadores and definitely will be approved by novice drinkers who haven’t yet developed a palate for more bold and earthy mates. Read the rest of the review to find out more about Liebig Original.

Liebig Original

Liebig Original
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Liebig Original

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La Merced De Campo

This is not another same Argentine yerba mate, even though it may seem like that at first — behind a typical con palo cut La Merced De Campo hides unique features that will make this yerba mate a nice addition to a shelf of any mate drinker. Unprecedentedly long durability, very balanced classic taste and sustained energy make this mate a perfect everyday productivity booster and a great introduction for beginners to what mate is all about — delicious earthy taste and long-lasting benefits of clear mind and non-overwhelming energy. Read the rest of the review to find out more about La Merced De Campo.

La Merced De Campo

La Merced De Campo
Reviewed

Available from multiple sellers

La Merced De Campo

5 Offers Available:

Free worldwide shipping on qualified orders.

North America and Europe shipping. Amazon Prime available.

10% off the whole order! Worldwide shipping available.

Use code MateExperience10 for 10% off the whole order!

Free shipping to EU and UK on orders over PLN 120.

Sinceridad Naranja

A great example of what flavored yerba mate should be like — fun and friendly enough to appease novice materos, but not too overloaded with flavoring to repulse more conservative drinkers. Do not overlook Sinceridad Naranja if you are opposed to a thought of flavored yerba mate — I bet it can pleasantly surprise you and prove that flavored mate can actually be pretty good and satisfying, whether you like it hot or cold. Read the rest of the review to find out more about this yerba mate.

Sinceridad Naranja

Sinceridad Naranja
Reviewed

Available from multiple sellers

Sinceridad Naranja

2 Offers Available:

10% off the whole order! Worldwide shipping available.

Free shipping to EU and UK on orders over PLN 120.

Basic dos and don’ts


Even the most sweet and light yerba mate can be ruined and become undrinkable if you don’t avoid these common pitfalls.

Do prepare mate correctly and traditionally, meaning that you fill up the gourd 2/3 to 3/4 with yerba mate and drink it through bombilla. Some people may suggest that in order to avoid an overly bitter and strong mate, beginners should fill only 1/4 of the gourd with yerba mate, or even use french press. In reality, this will result in mate “soup” that is unbalanced and unpleasant to drink. Properly prepared mate is designed to be balanced during the whole drinking session, as the water touches the yerba mate partially, eventually using it all over the time as you pour more and more water.


Do use the correct water, especially when it comes to temperature. Best temperature for mate is in the range between 65°C to 85°C / 150°F to 185°F .

Don’t drink mate with boiling hot water! Not only does it ruin the taste of mate, it is also extremely dangerous. Mate is not brewed in the same fashion as tea or coffee; you sip mate as soon as you refill it in the gourd, and boiling hot water will most definitely burn your mouth. Different yerbas are best at different temperatures, but as a general rule of thumb, 70°C / 160°F is fine for most of yerba mate brands. You can read my guide if you want to learn more about water for mate.

Don’t sweeten your mate if it is too bitter. Yerba mates that I recommend for beginners are already naturally sweet, and while they still may taste bitter to an unprepared palate, instead try to eat something sweet along with drinking. Dulce de leche is a very popular dessert in Argentina and South America and goes really well with mate. I particularly find a combination of sweet alfajores with bitter mate super delicious and yummy.

And finally, don’t get discouraged too early! Give your palate at least 2 weeks to get accustomed to the flavor of mate and I guarantee that eventually you’ll love it!


Next steps


If you liked those yerbas from the first sip, or started to enjoy them after a while — congratulations! A whole new world full of delicious yerba mates has opened to you, ready to be discovered. Now as you’re finishing these bags of yerba mate, you can start thinking on what to try next.

Start exploring other brands of Argentine yerba mate, try despalada cut, and eventually take a leap towards the other regional varieties. Don’t worry if you don’t like a certain yerba mate at first — take a note and remember to revisit it sometime later. For instance, one of the first yerbas that I tried was Rosamonte Tradicional, and I absolutely hated it — too bitter and smoky, back then it tasted to me as if I brewed some tobacco. Later, however, when my palate became more mature, I revisited Rosamonte Tradicional and absolutely loved its bold and strong flavor.


Taking notes (mentally, physically on a piece of paper or with an app on your phone) on what you like or dislike is a good strategy in general, as long as you don’t cling to your preferences too hard and are open to reconsider some of your tastes. It will help you to better understand how your palate evolves and what yerba mate you should try next. You can combine it with reading my yerba mate reviews to see whether you’ll enjoy a certain yerba mate or not, according to your preferences.

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What yerba mate you decided to start with?

Experienced materos — what was your first yerba mate and what would you recommend for beginners?

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