Yerba Mate is a highly caffeinated beverage, caffeine levels range from 20mg – 135mg per 8 ounce cup. The way that you brew your Mate greatly affects the caffeine level. A general rule of thumbs is that tea bags have the lowest caffeine level, followed by k-cups, loose leaf (gourd and bombilla), energy drinks, and finally energy shots with the highest levels of caffeine.
In a study done by Heck and de Mejia 2007 the average 8 ounce cup of Yerba Mate tea had 78mg of caffeine in it. To put this in some perspective a typical 8oz cup of coffee has 85mg of caffeine. The famously highly caffeinated red bull energy drink has 80mg of caffeine, virtually the same level as an average cup of Yerba Mate (International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation). Mate tea ranks much higher in caffeine content above two other famous beverages, green tea and soda. The average 8 oz soda has 26.4mg, and an average pot of green tea has 25-48mg per 8 ounce serving. (Mayo Clinic)
Caffeine in an 8 ounce serving:
- Yerba Mate: 78mg
- Coffee: 85mg
- Red bull: 80mg
- Soda: 26.4mg
- Green tea: 25-48
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Below is a more thorough breakdown of Yerba Mate caffeine content by specific brewing method.
Yerba Mate Caffeine vs Coffee Caffeine Levels
As you can see the two drinks have virtually identical caffeine contents.
How much caffeine in Yerba Mate tea bags?
Mate tea bags typically have the lowest levels of caffeine and can range anywhere from 15 mg of caffeine per cup to 50 mg. If you steep your tea in water for a longer time the caffeine content of your cup will increase. If your goal is to increase your Mate’s caffeine level, then steep for 5-7 minutes.
Mate tea bags are commonly found in Brazil and other South American countries that prefer to drink tea out of a typical mug rather than a gourd and bombilla as commonly seen in Argentina. The most popular Brazilian Yerba Mate tea brand is Matte Leão. Matte Leão tea is commonly flavored with citrus fruits (lime, orange, lemon) and Brazilians often take their Mate with an added teaspoon of sugar to sweeten the taste.
Yerba Mate Loose Leaf
Yerba Mate loose leaf is the most common type of tea found in Argentina. It is the most famous type of Yerba Mate, and the style that has the most tea ceremony rituals associated with it. The amount of caffeine consumed in the average cup of loose leaf yerba varies based on the following factors.
Typically, when drinking Yerba Mate tea from a gourd a large measure of yerba mate tea leaves are first packed into the gourd. The gourd is then filled with water, and passed around the circle. Once empty, the gourd is refilled with water using the same mate tea leaves. Depending on the number of ‘rounds’ that the gourd is passed around the mate circle, and the number of times the same leaves are used, the caffeine level will vary. The longer you wait for the water to steep the mate inside the gourd, and the more frequently you swap out the old leaves for new leaves, the higher the yerba mate caffeine content will be. Loose leaf Yerba Mate is the tea with the highest caffeine levels.
In a study done by Heck and de Mejia 2007 the average caffeine content observed was 78mg per 8 ounces but this can vary significantly based on the factors listed above. One of the most popular Argentine loose leaf tea varieties is Cruz De Malta, it has a strong and smoky flavor that many Argentinians cant get enough of!
What is the amount of caffeine in Yerba Mate energy drinks?
Energy drinks are a new trend when it comes to drinking Yerba Mate. They are not common in South America. They may exist, but I have never seen one for sale in any supermarket in Brazil or Argentina. Yerba Mate’s growth as an international drink has spurred more companies to start making on the go energy drinks that contain yerba mate as the base ingredient. Some good examples of this are Guayaki’s Elation drinks. The level of caffeine in these energy drinks varies, but it can always be found listed on the can. Typically these bottled yerba beverages have caffeine amounts of 70-90 mg per serving.
Yerba Mate k-Cups
The k cup caffeine content for Yerba Mate is very similar to the levels seen in loose leaf mate tea. The manufacturers typically take freshly ground mate leaves and place them into a disposable cup. Yerba Mate K-cups are a new invention, and a new evolution in the disposable drinks market. The caffeine content is usually printed on the box that you purchase. Yerba Mate k-cups are simple to use and fit inside Keurig K-cup brewers. These cups are on sale in very few locations and can mostly be found online. The Special Company sells 10 packs of k-cups. The taste of the Special Company’s Yerba Mate k-cups is relatively sweeter and lighter than an average cup of loose leaf Mate.
How much caffeine in Yerba Mate energy shots?
These energy shots feature the highest caffeine levels. However many brands also add in other ingredients and sweeteners that greatly change the taste and health profile of Yerba Mate. Yerba Mate energy shots can have caffeine contents as high as 140mg per 8 ounce serving.
FAQ & Caffeine Summary:
Does Yerba Mate have caffeine in it? Yes, it has high levels of caffeine. Some may argue that it has matteine, but scientific evidence has not backed this up. Also, as a speaker of both Spanish and Portuguese I think the distinction is purely semantics. Both words are foreign to the English language; matteine means derived from the mate leaf, while caffeine means derived from the coffee bean.
What is the amount of caffeine in Yerba Mate? Depending on how you brew your Mate, it can range from about 20 mg of caffeine per cup when using a tea bag, up to 135 mg per cup when using lose leaf mate. With an average amount of 78 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce cup Yerba Mate has considerably higher amounts of caffeine than green tea, equal amounts of caffeine as Red Bull, and just slightly lower levels of caffeine than the average cup of coffee.
I used the following resources to gather my information to write this article.