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Guayusa vs. yerba mate – what to choose?

Guayusa vs. yerba mate – what to choose?

Not without reason, guayusa is often referred to as yerba mate's cousin. They have a lot in common, but there are also some differences. If you want to know more about yerba mate and guayusa – what it is, what the similarities and differences are between them, which is better – we encourage you to read the article!


  1. Guayusa and yerba mate – two sisters from South America
  2. What do yerba mate and Ilex guayusa have in common? Stimulating properties
  3. Differences between yerba mate and guayusa
  4. Guayusa versus yerba mate – what to choose?

Guayusa and yerba mate – two sisters from South America

Both yerba mate and guayusa are native to South America. Ilex paraguariensis, from which yerba mate is made, is naturally found in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, while Ilex guayusa is native to Ecuador. Although they belong to the same family of holly, yerba mate is much more popular worldwide. This is because, during the Conquista, yerba mate was Paraguay's main export, while Ecuador traded in commodities that paid better than guayusa, including cotton and bananas. Nowadays, guayusa is gaining popularity on the world market and, to our delight, more and more of our customers are reaching for it! Guayusa – what is it and how does it differ from yerba mate? Read on!

What do yerba mate and Ilex guayusa have in common? Stimulating properties

One of the most important similarities between yerba mate and guayusa is the stimulant potential. Both products contain a high amount of natural caffeine, which is responsible for the stimulating effect. Sources state that the guayusa infusion contains around 3-4% caffeine, while yerba mate contains around 1-1.2% caffeine. What these two drinks have in common is that, unlike coffee, they do not cause a sharp rise in blood pressure and do not give a feeling of energy loss when the effect stops. The stimulating effect is long-lasting. Both yerba mate and guayusa can be healthier and equally effective substitutes for coffee and energy drinks. Both plants were used by Indian tribes as a stimulant drink before hunting, day hikes or night watches. In South American culture, guayusa is sometimes even called “night watchman's tea”. Both plants were part of Indian rituals. They were surrounded by an almost religious cult and were an important part of South American indigenous life and culture. The nutritional content is also similar. Yerba mate is a drink full of beneficial substances; it is an excellent source of vitamins A and B, as well as C and E. Yerba mate also provides many elements that are key to the proper functioning of the body, such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium and others. Guayusa contains a similar set of minerals that make an infusion of the plant a valuable component of the daily diet. Both plants also contain a solid dose of antioxidants – their job is to fight free radicals, which are responsible for, among other things, the development of certain types of cancer. And what is the difference between yerba mate and guayusa?

Guayusa – what is it?

Differences between yerba mate and guayusa – what do they taste like and how to brew them?

Let's start with the taste. A characteristic feature of yerba mate is its bitter taste, which makes many people discouraged from drinking a brew made from Ilex paraguariensis right from the start. In this respect, guayusa is an excellent substitute – due to its lower content of tannins, the substances responsible for the characteristic bitterness, it has a much milder, more vegetal taste. The South American sisters also differ in terms of how they are brewed. While it is important to keep an eye on the right water temperature when making an infusion of yerba mate, this is much simpler with an infusion of guayusa. How do you brew it? Simply pour the dry product into a container, pour in the boiling water, wait a few minutes and you're done! And to make the brew even easier, guayusa can be drunk through a bombilla, just like yerba mate. What else makes them different? Although infusions of yerba mate and guayusa were part of Indian rituals, guayusa was additionally attributed another magical property – it was believed to help put the body into a state of conscious sleep, which in turn was believed to facilitate predictions about the future.

Let's summarise what yerba mate and guayusa have in common and what divides them:

Yerba mate Guayusa
The plant from which it is derived Ilex paraguariensis Ilex guayusa
Where it comes from Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay Ecuador and Peru
Taste and aroma of the brew intense, expressive, with a noticeable bitterness herbal, delicate, somewhat reminiscent of a nettle infusion
Caffeine content per serving of the brew approximately 1-1.2% approximately 3-4%
Vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content rich in antioxidants and containing vitamins A, B (B1, B2 and B6), C and E as well as minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, silicon, among others rich in antioxidants and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron and zinc
Preparation of the infusion poured with water with a maximum temperature of approx. 70-80 °C poured with boiling water (100 °C)

Guayusa versus yerba mate – what to choose?

Those fresh to the subject of South American infusions may be faced with a difficult dilemma: what to choose – yerba mate or guayusa? Both infusions are great alternatives to coffee and unhealthy energy drinks, on top of being rich in valuable ingredients for the body, and therefore exhibit many more properties than mere stimulation. Certainly, guayusa is a good option for those who do not like the intense character of yerba mate or are concerned about its bitter taste. It is also a good alternative for those who like mate tea and drink it regularly, but sometimes want to swap it for something with a slightly milder taste. We encourage you to test both drinks – each has its own advantages in terms of both taste and properties!

Source of information:

  1. Wikipedia: Ilex guayusa.
  2. G. Wise, A. Negrin, A critical review of the composition and history of safe use of guayusa: a stimulant and antioxidant novel food, Food Science and Nutrition, 2019.
  3. M. Radice, N. Cossio, L. Scalvenzi, Ilex guayusa: A systematic review of its Traditional Uses, Chemical Constituents, Biological Activities and Biotrade Opportunities, Mol2Net, 2016.


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