You can often see large and authoritative resources calling yerba mate a tea, even in their headlines. Because of that many people new to yerba mate think that it is some form of green tea, like matcha. But is yerba mate really a green tea? Is it correct to call yerba mate a tea?
Tea is a beverage or infusion made by pouring hot or even boiling water over the leaves of Camellia Sinensis, an evergreen plant native to China and other East and Southeast Asian countries. Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia Sinensis leaves that have not undergone the wilting and oxidation process like other types of tea, such as black or oolong teas. Green tea originated in China and is one of the most popular types of tea today.
Yerba mate, also known as Ilex Paraguariensis, is a holly plant native to South America. Yerba mate is processed by drying, milling and aging, and then either steeped in hot water to make a beverage known as mate, or in cold water to make a beverage known as tereré. Less popular than tea, yerba mate is a major part of culture in Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil, and is gaining popularity worldwide due to its unique flavor, stimulating effects and myriad of health benefits.
No, yerba mate is not the same as green tea. And, strictly speaking, yerba mate is not even a tea, because it does not come from Camellia Sinensis plant. However, a lot of people use the term “tea” very broadly and inclusively, meaning any herbal infusion, such as rooibos tea, chamomile tea, hibiscus tea, etc. All these infusions are also not made from Camellia Sinensis and along with yerba mate are often categorized as “herbal teas”, hence the myth.
By the way, even though yerba mate and tea are two different beasts, they are no strangers to each other! As of recently, many yerba mate manufacturers, such as Canarias, started to explore the combination of tea and yerba mate, creating interesting and unique blends.
Do you enjoy tea or herbal infusions? What is your favorite type of tea? Share it in the comments!