Guayusa vs. Yerba mate: Comparison between sister varietals of Holly Tree family

Are you always craving flavors that are bold, subtle, bitter, smoky or mellow, yet caffeinated? Worry not, we have got you covered. We all know, caffeine has a way of giving the body the kick-start that it needs. That is why we bring you this Guayusa vs. Yerba mate comparison so that you can pick out the type of taste you prefer between the two herbs.

guayusa versus yerba mate

Your choice will also depend on your moods. This is because, there are days that you will have a craving for something bitter such as Yerba mate, while other days you will want something subtle and mellow such as the Guayusa.

Both of them are derived from plants found in different parts of South America and entail some components which are quite similar such as caffeine, polyphenols and lastly, theobromine.


Guayusa or Ilex Guayusa is native to the upper Amazonian Regions of Ecuador, Peru, and southern Colombia.

Yerba mate or Ilex Paraguariensis is grown in northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil.

The Distinction

Guayusa and Yerba mate are quite alike. But still, possess a slight dissimilarity. It is therefore up to you to decide which one pleases your taste buds among the two contenders.

What is Yerba mate?

Yerba mate is a powerfully caffeinated plant that has its descent from the popular holly family category. It hails from the southern parts of South America. It is cultivated from seeds until it grows into a developed plant. Its leaves are usually air or oven dried before they are brewed. It has a pronounced bitter taste.

What is Guayusa?

Guayusa, pronounced gwy-yoo-suh, also goes by the name “night watchman’s tea”. Just like its predecessor, it is a member of the holly family but from a different plant species, and has a very mild flavor. Compared to Yerba mate, it contains less caffeine which translates to more antioxidants which your body craves for. Guayusa is grown in the northern part of South America and is highly consumed in Ecuador.

How are they processed?

The only difference in their processing is their drying process. They are usually harvested, sun, air or smoke-dried then milled.

  • The contrast in the drying processes.

Yerba mate is dried using flames that emanate from burning wood. Some companies have also embraced air drying which is equally efficient and safer. On the other hand, Guayusa is dried using ovens which run on natural gas.

  • Chemical composition

Irrespective of their myriad similarities, their chemical properties are slightly different. This is due to the difference in their plant species. Both of them contain compounds that are not found in the other.



Yerba mate’s chemical properties

• Caffeine (85 milligrams in 8ounces)
• Theophylline
• Theobromine





Guayusa’s chemical properties:

• Caffeine (66 milligrams in 8 ounces)
• Theobromine
• L-theanine



From the above inferences, we can make out that Yerba mate contains a higher concentration of caffeine compared to Guayusa. Theophylline, found in Yerba mate is usually found in tea. It does an excellent job treating respiratory ailments such as asthma by bringing about a relaxing effect on the muscles. This makes breathing easy, while at the same time reducing stress.

Guayusa, on the other hand, contains L-theanine, which is not found in Yerba mate. Once taken, it produces a relaxing effect which reduces stress levels.

All in all, both plants have stimulating properties, which do not cause jitters or crashing although their compositions are different. Irrespective of their similarities, their effects are different.

Effects of drinking them

While both herbs are said to increase energy levels, stimulate the mind, promote concentration and better your moods, they also do not cause jitters or the crashing effect that comes about after taking coffee.

What makes Yerba mate ideal

Everyone reacts or responds differently to products, irrespective of how similar they are. However, consumption of Yerba mate guarantees you all the energy you require to go about your business throughout the day. Despite its high caffeine levels, Yerba mate does not cause jitters or have you crashing or feeling burnt out.

No matter how fatigued you were, it immediately leaves you with a relaxing feeling once you take it. As if that is not enough, Yerba mate boosts mental functions, leaving you alert, focused, active and very productive.

yerba mate and guayusa make you feel good

Both teas are known for giving you “feel good” effect.

In addition to that, Yerba mate is loaded with lots of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are necessary for body wellness. Last but not least Yerba mate boosts the immune system, helps combat obesity and promotes healthy digestion and strong bones.

How do they taste

Until you try each of them, you will never know. However, we will try to explain based on inferences made by consumers of both herbs.

For Yerba mate, It is said to have a profound, bitter, earthy, tart, smooth and smoky taste. However, the intensity of its flavor differs depending on the brand. Although, there are many ways to spice it up with lemon, honey, ginger, etc. There are many ways to prepare it.

Guayusa has a taste similar to Yerba mate, only that it is not as strong and bitter. It is not smoky and has a natural sweetness.

Final thoughts

From the above Guayusa vs. Yerba mate comparison, we can make out that both herbs are acquired tastes. In that, you will have to get used to them for you to start enjoying them. If you are also looking for an alternative to coffee, Yerba mate will do just fine. Its caffeine levels are similar to those found in your favorite cup of coffee.

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