Main Types of Yerba Mate: Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil
You might have already noticed that yerba mate comes in a variety of colors, flavors, strengths and cuts. The three main countries that produce and export it are Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Every region has a distinct way of harvesting, processing and ageing the herb, which is what makes them unique. In this article we will look at the three main types of yerba mate and talk about the differences.
In Argentina, second largest yerba producer in the world behind Brazil, mate is a big part of culture and tradition. The distinct taste of Argentinean yerba is loved worldwide, and this yerba is recommended to beginners for several important reasons.
First of all, it’s the easiest one for novices to prepare due to its cut. High content of medium-sized leaves and stems and low content of dust will allow you to easily strain the tea using a bombilla, even if you have no experience preparing yerba mate.
Another great thing about Argentinean mate is that it comes in many flavors and strengths. Some brands (like Taragui or Amanda) can be bold and intense, while others (like Kraus or Piporé) are quite sweet and mild. Such wide selection and diversity makes it easy to find something that suits you perfectly.
The territory of modern Paraguay is where the history of yerba mate begins. But what does Paraguayan yerba look and taste like?
As you might know, summer temperatures in Paraguay reach up to 45°C. This is why tereré (or cold brewed version of mate) is the most popular mate infusion there. Because cold water doesn’t bring out the flavors of yerba as much as hot water does, Paraguayan yerba is dried differently to achieve a stronger, more pronounced flavor even in cold water.
This unique drying process makes the flavor of this mate very complex, so it will surely keep you intrigued. It is usually bold and smoky, ranging from bitter or salty to sweet, with prominent notes of grass, smoke, dried fruit, florals and nuts. The cut is similar to Argentina’s, so you shouldn’t have any problems preparing this yerba.
Brazil is the largest producer of yerba mate worldwide, manufacturing about 518 thousand tons of yerba every year. The country also produces mate for export to Uruguay, since most agricultural areas of the country are dedicated to livestock and farming.
Brazilian yerba mate (also known as chimarrão or erva mate) stands out in every aspect. It almost entirely consists not of leaves and stems, but of bright neon green dust (pulverized leaves) with a fresh, grassy smell. The vibrant color is explained by the fact that Brazilian yerba is not aged at all, but quickly dried and immediately packaged to preserve the natural color and smell of herbs.
Due its very fine cut, this yerba is the hardest one to prepare. It might take you a bit of time and practice to brew a perfect chimarrão without clogging the bombilla. However, in all other aspects this yerba is probably the most beginner-friendly: light strength, smooth, creamy texture and sweet, fresh, buttery taste of Brazilian erva are very easy to fall in love with!
If you want to experience these flavors yourself, Yerbox offers you six exclusive degustation sets. Every set has a selection of brands from each country that we think are a must-try for every mate lover. Argentina, Paraguy and Brazil Starter packs will help you make the first steps, while the Degustation packs will take you even further into the world of South American yerba.
Remember: no two brands are the same, so don’t limit yourself to one region. Explore mate in its geographical diversity and find what you enjoy the most with Yerbox!