How to know if the Yerba Mate is of good quality or not

a girl serving hoy water in a mate gourd with yerba mate

We love to drink Yerba Mate (obviously), and if you are here reading this, you probably do too.

However, do you think you could differentiate high quality Yerba mate from a bad quality one? Do you know what you would have to detect to know this? 

We have told you in previous posts about the components of Yerba Mate. The thick leaf adds lightness to the leaf and gives balance to the finer leaves, which adds more flavor to the product. The stick is a vital element within the composition as a blend for the rest of the components. Lastly, the leaf powder is key to providing foaminess, performance and body to the infusion.

In addition, sommelier Karla Johan Lorenzo, author of “The Yerba Mate Book”, describes the process of a professional tasting:

“First of all, we take into account the visual part, that is, that it has no defects. It must be a quality herb, without black spots, perhaps due to poor dryness, nor many crushed sticks, which takes away from quality. Then, the taste part, considering that in the taste buds we feel the sweet sensation on the tip of the tongue, the acid and salty taste on the sides, and the bitter at the end. To this is added the typical flavors of Yerba Mate: notes of dry grass, brown sugar, and mineral notes that come from the red earth of the area. After trying several mates, the mate is brought up to the nose and covered with one of the hands where the Yerba Mate is wet. This allows us to detect the aromas of Yerba Mate ”.

Likewise, Valeria Trapaga (sommelier specialist in Yerba Mate tasting) and Walter Martínez (food engineer and Head of Quality Control of Establishment Las Marías) provide some key points to keep in mind.

According to them, we can evaluate quality simply with our senses. The aspects to take into account are:

Smell 👃🏼: the aroma

Aggressive aromas are left out. A quality Yerba Mate should have a dry herb aroma, coming from a subtle toast. We take care that it does not have signs of humidity or confinement, we always look for fresh aromas. These features will indicate that the Yerba Mate has had an adequate maturity and a correct stationary period.

View 👁️: the color

Regarding its appearance, we should look for a light green color with soft yellowish tones. The more even the color, the better. “If we see black leaves, brownish tones or little seeds, it is not a good Yerba Mate”, explains Trapaga.

There must also be a harmony between the different components: the stick, the thick leaf, the fine leaf and the leaf powder. The right proportions will determine the flavor.

Taste 👅: the flavor

Yerba Mate must be bitter. Trapaga speaks of a “slight bitter touch” as a “virtuous” characteristic. Likewise, its flavor depends on things like the origin or the treatment, which will give it more or less bitter, more persistent, deep or velvety characteristics. If it’s sweet, it means it has a high sugar content added to it. It could have the same level of sugar as a soda, and the health benefits we get from Yerba Mate would be overshadowed.

Touch ✋🏼: the texture

By just taking a handful of Yerba, we can evaluate its consistency. The consistency it should have is a very dry leaf; and as we squeeze it with our hands, we should hear a subtle crunch and see a small amount of leaf powder come off. If this happens, it is a good indicator of the quality of the Yerba.

In addition, Walter Martínez provides a simple and fast way to analyze the quality of the powder. After filling the Mate in its three quarters, it should be covered with the hand and shaken upside down. When removing your hand, the powder should come off easily from the palm and its color should be dry green. These are two key indicators of a good Yerba Mate.

According to Valeria Trapaga, “making Yerba Mate is a true art, it’s like making a good wine”.

We hope that now you can start selecting and drinking quality Yerba Mate. And see for yourself that our Yerba is not only unique: it is also of excellent quality!

Milonga loose leaf package in a rock

Leaving already?

Subscribe to our mailing list & get an email with a discount code for 10% off