Yerba Mate Tea: What It is, Steps to Make It Properly, & Benefits

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Yerba mate is a rare herbal tea in that it’s one of the few plants that naturally produce caffeine. Whether making it hot or cold, yerba mate is a great herbal alternative to coffee.

Hot yerba mate tea in a glass mug.

What is Yerba Mate Tea?

  • Yerba mate is an herbal tea made by steeping leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant in water. Both the plant and the drink originated in South America.
  • There’s caffeine in yerba mate tea, unlike most herbal teas. It has a strong, distinctive flavor.
  • Traditionally, yerba mate is served in a mate, or gourd, with a bombilla, which is a particular kind of straw. I make mine in a teapot and pour the drink into a cup.

Make more drinks with yerba mate: Sparkling Hibiscus Yerba Mate and Iced Lime Yerba Mate Tea.

Yerba Mate Benefits

Ingredient Notes

Yerba mate tea ingredients.
  • Yerba mate tea
    I prefer loose tea over tea bags since it’s easier to control the amount you want to use.
  • Water
    Use filtered water whenever possible for a better tasting tea.

Steps to Make Hot Yerba Mate Tea

Four photo collage showing steps to make hot yerba mate tea.

For complete brewing guide, full ingredients, and instructions, scroll to the bottom.

  1. Boil water.
    Hot yerba mate doesn’t require boiling hot water, just simmered water. Using an electric kettle with temperature settings to heat water for tea makes it easy to get the water temperature just right. Boil more than needed since you want extra to warm up the teapot.
  2. Warm up teapot.
    Warm up the teapot by pouring some of the boiled water into a teapot. Swirl the water around and then throw the water out.
  3. Put yerba mate tea into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep.
  4. Strain yerba mate solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.
My Electric Kettle Pick

Photo Credit: amazon.com

This is my workhorse when making tea on a daily basis. Heats water to an exact temperature.
SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

Steps to Make Iced Yerba Mate Tea

It’s super quick and easy to make iced yerba mate since it only takes seconds!

Two photo steps to make cold brew iced yerba mate tea.
  1. Put yerba mate tea and cold water in an airtight glass container. Cover container and shake for 15 seconds.
    Use a cocktail shaker or a jar with a tight lid.
  2. Strain yerba mate tea leaves and pour tea into a cup with ice.
    There are a lot of small bits so use a mesh strainer to filter out the tea leaves.

Expert Tips

  • There will still be little particles of yerba mate leaves in your cup after you strain, and that’s perfectly fine to drink. You can also strain it a couple of times to get rid of the smaller bits.
  • Yerba mate tea isn’t usually sweetened, but if you want to it’s best to use simple syrup (half water, half sugar). It incorporates into iced tea the easiest. Even better, use lemon simple syrup since yerba tastes great with a little lemon or lime.
  • You don’t need a traditional gourd to enjoy this tea properly. A teapot and cup does the job just as well.
  • Buy yerba mate in small portions. It doesn’t go bad but the herbs do go stale over time, so buying smaller amounts will help maintain its flavor.

Questions You May Have

What does yerba mate tea taste like?

Yerba mate has a strong, earthy flavor that has an herbal aroma. It can also be slightly bitter, so the unusual flavor is definitely something that you have to get used to.

Is there caffeine?

Yes, yerba mate naturally contains caffeine. In fact, it has nearly as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.

Is yerba mate good for you?

The drink was initially consumed for wellness because of its antioxidant properties which have been confirmed since then by scientific studies.

Is yerba mate a real tea?

Yerba mate tea isn’t a real tea since it’s an herbal tea. To be a real tea, it needs to come from the camellia sinensis plant like black or green tea.

Cold brew yerba mate tea in a glass with ice.

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How to Make Yerba Mate Tea

Author: Jee Choe
Get step-by-step directions on how to make this caffeinated herbal tea.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Steep Time 5 mins
Total Time 7 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Boil water.
    Don’t use boiling hot water for yerba mate. Heat water to where it just starts to simmer. Turn off heat. If using an electric kettle with temperature setting, set it to 165°F. Filtered water is best.
  • Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into a teapot and swirl it around a bit. Discard the water.
    Warming up the teapot is an extra step that all tea professionals take the time to do, so that when the tea steeps, the water temperature won't drop drastically.
  • Put yerba mate into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Strain yerba mate solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.

NOTES

How to Make Cold Brew Yerba Mate Iced Tea

  1. Put yerba mate tea and cold water in an airtight glass container. Cover container and shake for 15 seconds.
    Use a cocktail shaker or a jar with a tight lid.
  2. Strain yerba mate tea leaves and pour tea into a cup with ice.
    There are a lot of small bits so use a mesh strainer to filter out the tea leaves.

Brewing Guide

Hot Yerba Mate Tea
  • TEA: 2 teaspoons yerba mate tea
  • WATER: 1 cup (8 oz.)
  • WATER TEMPERATURE: 165°F
  • STEEP TIME: 5 minutes
Cold Brew Yerba Mate Iced Tea
  • TEA: 2 teaspoons yerba mate tea
  • WATER: 1 cup (8 oz.)
  • WATER TEMPERATURE: Cold water
  • STEEP TIME: 15 seconds, shaking water and tea in an airtight container

Tips

  • There will still be little particles of yerba mate leaves in your cup after you strain, and that’s perfectly fine to drink. You can also strain it a couple of times to get rid of the smaller bits.
  • Yerba mate tea isn’t usually sweetened, but if you want to it’s best to use simple syrup (half water, half sugar). It incorporates into iced tea the easiest. Even better, use lemon simple syrup since yerba tastes great with a little lemon or lime.
  • You don’t need a traditional gourd to enjoy this tea properly. A teapot and cup does the job just as well.
  • Buy yerba mate in small portions. It doesn’t go bad but the herbs do go stale over time, so buying smaller amounts will help maintain its flavor.
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