Yerba Mate Caffeine Content – Everything You Need to Know
Yerba mate is a unique beverage that comes from South America. Due to its health benefits, energizing powers, and complex taste, it has grown in popularity around the world. It can be enjoyed as a tea, energy drink, and even as an energy shot.
Like many herbal infusions, it contains caffeine and comes with all the benefits and risks that entails. If you’ve ever wondered how much caffeine yerba mate contains, and how it compares to other caffeinated teas and coffees.
Caffeine Content of Yerba Mate
Yerba mate’s caffeine content depends greatly on its brewing method, type of mate, and concentration.
There are three main types of yerba mate; Brazilian, Paraguayan, and Argentinian. Brazilian yerba mate tends to contain the highest caffeine content followed by Paraguayan and Argentinian.
Caffeine Content by Brewing Method
1. Traditional Brewing
Traditional brewing yields the highest amount of caffeine, clocking in at around 180 mg.
2. French Press Brewing
French press brewing yields around 70 mg of caffeine, much lower than the traditional method.
3. Tea Bag Brewing
Brewing with tea bags yields the lowest amount of caffeine at an average of around 30 mg.
Comparing Yerba Mate Caffeine Content with Coffee and Tea
Like yerba mate, the caffeine content in coffee and tea will vary depending on the brewing method and brand. However, on average coffee has 120 mg of caffeine per cup while a shot of espresso is 75 mg. Black tea has around 50 mg, and green tea has 25 mg.
Switching Your Coffee For Yerba Mate
Because yerba mate has so many benefits (more on that below), you may consider pouring this instead of your daily java. Plus, yerba mate offers you energy quite differently from coffee. How is that so?
Yerba mate contains theobromine, a feel-good stimulant also present in chocolate. In addition, it contains theophylline, the same stimulant in black and green tea which offers you cognitive clarity and energy. By combining theobromine, caffeine, and theophylline, yerba mate offers you a comprehensive boost that coffee cannot.
Benefits of Caffeine
Remember that caffeine is a stimulant, and it has a number of pros and cons that are important to consider.
First, let’s take a look at some of the proven benefits of including caffeine in your diet.
1. Improves Alertness and Brain Function
Caffeine can improve your memory and reaction time [1, 2], along with your mood and overall brain function. Not only that, but caffeine may also prevent brain aging, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease . Plus, yerba mate also contains the amino acid L-theanine which further boosts your brainpower.
Of course, we all know that caffeine can keep you awake and alert when you are suffering from sleep deprivation. However, this study  notes that “although caffeine can temporarily sustain performance during continuous operations, it should be emphasized that no drug can substitute for adequate sleep.”
2. Caffeine and Weight Loss
Caffeine may impact your weight in a number of ways. It can increase mental focus and boost your exercise intensity, so you burn more calories during and after your workouts. Many athletes consume caffeine before workouts to give them an extra boost. Caffeine can also reduce your appetite, so you consume fewer calories overall.
We all know people who can eat a lot and still maintain their slim frame, and that’s because of their metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the speed at which your body processes incoming calories; the faster your metabolic rate, the more calories are needed to sustain you.
The metabolic rate varies depending on genetics, muscle mass, body fat, activity, age, gender, and hormonal function. And here, once again, caffeine’s superpowers come to the rescue. Caffeine has been proven to increase your metabolic rate , making yerba mate a good choice for boosting your metabolism.
There is another aspect of beverages like yerba mate and other herbal teas that may help with weight loss, though. Yerba mate tea may help you shed weight because hot, soothing, low-calorie beverages fill your stomach and hydrate you, causing you to feel fuller and consume fewer calories overall. However, any type of tea can help you with this, including herbal teas like peppermint tea that do not contain caffeine.
While the caffeine in yerba mate tea may support your weight loss goals, it is not a miracle fix, and caffeine does come with negative side effects discussed below. Before looking to caffeine as your main weight-loss tool, look at your relationship with food and movement first.
Risks of Caffeine
It’s important to know that caffeine does not come without risks.
1. Poor Stress Response
Remember that caffeine is an addictive stimulant. Some people are very sensitive to caffeine, and even one cup of tea leads to jitteriness, shakiness, headaches, and severe anxiety. This study  found that “Compared to placebo, caffeine caused more than DOUBLE the levels of epinephrine and cortisol, both involved in stress response… Caffeine may increase your stress level whether you are using caffeine sporadically or regularly.”
The same study found that “Too much caffeine can cause:
- Worsening of anxiety
- Sleep disturbance
- Make your heartbeat faster, palpitations, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms”
Another study found that “caffeine led to increased alertness and anxiety and improved performance on simple and choice reactive tasks.” So while it may improve performance in some areas, it may also cause anxiety  and that can be detrimental to your cognitive performance.
2. Poor Digestive Function
Caffeine causes digestive distress in some people. Diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, and insomnia are not uncommon. 
Drinking caffeine too close to bedtime can cause sleeplessness and insomnia. Study #6, linked above, found that “caffeine had as early as 7 am lead to less efficient sleep and reduced total sleep at 9 pm…Some people have more daytime sleepiness because of caffeine-related sleep disruption… Caffeine can reduce blood flow to the brain by up to 27%.”
To avoid problems from caffeine consumption, we suggest drinking caffeine as early in the day as possible and in moderation.
3. Caffeine Withdrawal
Once you are addicted, coming off of caffeine can be quite challenging. Study #6 noted above found that “for some people, it can take days to weeks to see benefits from reducing or eliminating caffeine…Stopping caffeine abruptly can lead to withdrawal headaches, irritability, and other symptoms.”
While the risks of caffeine are real, it can still have its place in a healthy lifestyle. Just ensure that you pay attention to if it’s impacting your sleep, stress levels, and digestion, and cut back if it does. Consumed mindfully in moderation, it can be an enjoyable and beneficial part of your diet.
Yerba Mate Benefits
Its caffeine content aside, Yerba Mate is an exceptionally healthy beverage with numerous health benefits. Let’s take a look!
1. Contain Saponins
Yerba mate contains saponins, a natural compound with anti-inflammatory properties.  Reducing inflammation can improve your overall health and prevent diseases from developing.
Plus, saponins also emulsify fat-soluble molecules. That means they bind to bile acids and help remove them, which prevents cholesterol from being reabsorbed. They can support the lowering of your overall cholesterol and also boost your immune system.
2. Vitamins and Minerals
Yerba mate offers small amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. All these nutrients have antioxidant properties that may help boost your immune system and encourage overall better health, according to research. 
Antioxidants are bioactive compounds that fight oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress leads to numerous non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, different types of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. Antioxidants are considered health superheroes because they fight free radicals in the body, preventing cancer and reducing inflammation.
The polyphenols in teas like yerba mate are known antioxidants , and with 11 different kinds of polyphenols, it is an antioxidant powerhouse.
The important thing to remember about yerba mate’s caffeine content is it varies depending on the brewing method and type. Yerba mate’s caffeine levels start at 30 mg and can be as high as 180 mg. If you are considering including caffeine-rich beverages like yerba mate in your diet, ensure you do your homework and consider its benefits and potential downsides.
Written by Stephanie Moore
Stephanie is a professional writer who is a ‘SIBO survivor’ herself with broad experience writing in the health field. She is a regular writer for SIBO Survivor and calls Berlin, Germany home.