What Does Yerba Mate Taste Like?
The Flavor of Yerba Mate
Yerba mate, a South American herb related to the holly whose leaves are drunk much like tea elsewhere, has a taste that is different from tea, even green tea.
Here's how I would describe the flavor of yerba mate:
- Strong and pungent, especially if prepared in the traditional fashion from the gourd and straw.
- Somewhat earthy, not completely unlike green pu-erh tea.
- A slightly camphor/eucalyptus smell and taste (like Vicks).
- Bitter, but not very astringent if prepared similarly to tea.
Yerba mate has quite a bit of caffeine—more than tea, but less than coffee—so it can be addictive (I'm speaking from personal experience...).
It also comes in tiny broken pieces of the leaf, so in hot water, it doesn't take long to steep. I typically steep a couple of teaspoons in almost-boiling water for about 30 seconds, while I usually steep tea for at least 3 minutes.