This is what the Brain Ready Team had to say about Yerba Mate in comparison to Coffee…
Except from Brain Ready, 10/01/2007.
…the nutritional constituents of the plant are real and verified, as are ORAC antioxidant levels thanks to some ORAC testing, and thus it’s likely that Mate does provide large, complex range of antioxidants as well as nutrients and amino acids, as widely reported. Just as with Matcha green tea or high-quality organic coffee beans, the source must be as pure as possible in order to derive maximum benefit: in this case, rainforest shade-grown Mate, consumed straight (no added sugar or milk or other diluting elements). And like Matcha, teas and coffees, the strength of the brew will also affect the resulting amount of nutrients.
From an antioxidant profile standpoint, and 8 oz. serving of Mate compared to an 8 oz serving of brewed sencha green tea shows that Mate’s ORAC level is indeed almost twice that of both brewed green tea and coffee, however high-grade Matcha green tea and ground Sencha can still eclipse Mate (and coffee) on the ORAC scale depending on source and brewing strength (and contain some different components at different levels, which have given green tea its own deserving praise, most notably EGCG and L-Theanine).
Oh, and there is caffeine in Mate…although some Mate proponents insist that the form in Mate is slightly different and worthy of its own name, “Mateine”, providing almost identical effects but without the caffeine jitters. Others argue that it’s the same caffeine as in other teas, but thanks to the synergistic combination of balancing nutrients, the net effect is far different from coffee.
So whether it’s the same caffeine as in other teas and coffees or indeed the purported mateine variant, Yerba Mate contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine/mateine in an eight ounce cup, according to a recent Health Canada report, compared with 47 milligrams in a cup of tea and 100 milligrams in a cup of coffee.
So how does is compare to coffee? To answer this question, one must look at the nutritional profile of both mate and coffee, as well as the “functional” profile — or the real-world human effects and experiences of those who have consumed both and found differences. From a nutritional standpoint, assuming both coffee and mate drinks are prepared equally using high-quality fresh source material and nothing else but hot water added, Mate does appear to win: with comparatively higher levels of both amino acids and plant-derived vitamins, the combination of leaves and stems from the mate tree have been shown to possess a higher overall nutritional profile than the coffee bean. But remember that BOTH are powerhouses in the overall antioxidants area compared to so many other beverage choices out there (including most fruit juices).
Functional benefits may be the key difference: it’s in the real-world, practical application area that Mate really shines compared to coffee, at least for many people, particularly those sensitive to the effects of coffee: many former coffee drinkers cite the fact that Mate doesn’t upset their stomach like coffee once did, which can be attributed to Mate’s more alkaline nature compared to the often acidic coffee (depending on how coffee is brewed, of course, as we’ve cited in our Espresso vs. coffee comparison).
With about one-third the caffeine of coffee, plus the presence of natural calming tryptophan and other elements, many also report the lack of jitters, shakes and anxiety that can accompany coffee drinking, resulting in all of the “good buzz” of coffee without the bad. And perhaps most significant is the reported lack of “coffee crash”, which has been particularly of interest to athletes and performers, who cite Mate’s sustained energy without the hard crash at the end; this is likely the result of lower caffeine content combined with calming amino acids and muscle-fueling nutrients, helping athletes both mentally and physically without an extreme jittery high (and resulting crash) as can occur from coffee.