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  • Learn how to choose a good yerba mate to drink and how they are different based on your preferences. Sin palo, con palo, blends, caffeine content, common terms, and more are covered here!

    A friend asks which yerba mate they should try first....

    1. Start light

    I recommend a lighter (less bitter) flavor first and then it's like a decision tree from there.

    I usually recommend Cruz de Malta because of its smooth, more subtle taste that is least likely to scare someone completely away from yerba mate. This is my baseline.

    2. Taste preference

    I ask how people drink their coffee (black or with sweetener). It's almost a guarantee that if someone drinks their coffee black, they will love yerba mate.

    If they add sweeteners, they may lean towards more subtle yerba mate flavors or may want to add sugar or honey at first.

    3. Give it 5 Days

    I tell them they should try drinking yerba mate for 5 days in a row to get used to the routine, flavor, and feeling of yerba mate.

    For me personally, the actual flavor of yerba mate is maybe 30% of the reason I drink it. The other 70% is the routine, feeling, healthiness, community, and tradition behind it.

    4. The Check In

    I check how they like the bitterness level. I either get "I love the kick" or a "Can I add something else to lower the bitterness?".

    If they "love the kick" and want to know what stronger options are out there, I usually tell them to try Playadito next. If they want to lower the bitterness, I suggest Anna Park or one of the blended yerbas like CBSe mint & herbs.

    My friend now wants to know more details

    What is in Yerba Mate?

    yerba mate traditional image with 65% leaves, 25% stems, 10% dust

    Yerba Mate

    When you pour yerba mate, you'll see something like this. A mix of mostly leaves, stems, and a little "dust". Different yerba flavors have different proportions of each of the components.

    Yerba mate Hoja leaf

    Hoja - The Leaf

    The leaves are cut and are at the core of the yerba mate flavor. Exposure to the weather, production processes, and aging all impact the flavor in the leaves.

    Yerba mate palos (stems)

    Palo - The Stem

    The more stems, the lighter the flavor. They aren't bad and aren't just filler. They just have a more subtle flavor to them. Snoop Dog's "no stems, no sticks, " lyric doesn't apply to yerba mate.

    Yerba mate polvo or dust. Finely ground yerba mate

    Polvo - The "Dust"

    The Polvo, also known as the "Dust" is just the finely ground leaves and stems. It can add more "kick" to the yerba because there is less air and more yerba per square inch.

    Common Yerba Mate Styles

    Common Yerba Mate Label Terms

    Sin Palo

    Also called "Elaborada", contains less than 10% palo (stems). Indicates a stronger flavor.

    Con Palo

    Contains palo (stems) also called "Despalada". This is the traditional blend.

    Sin TACC

    Indicates the yerba is gluten free. Almost all yerba mate is gluten free. You may also see "Libre de Gluten".


    You may see “USDA Organic”, “Certified Organic in Argentina”, or other verbiage indicating which organic certification was achieved.


    Smoked/Toasted yerba mate. The producer applied smoke to the yerba mate to dry it but also to give a smoky flavor.

    Suave, amigable

    Indicates a smoother, gentle flavor. Contains a higher proportion of palo (stems) to ease the strength.

    Hierbas, Naranja, etc

    For blended yerba mate, you’ll see an indication of the added ingredients. "Hierbas" usually indicates a mix of herbs including mint. "Naranja" indicates orange flavors.


    These are small tea bags that can be used to brew yerba mate in a similar fashion to typical English tea.

    How much caffeine is in yerba mate?

    How do I find the flavor I enjoy?

    Keep Learning about Yerba Mate