Native to South America – where it’s been consumed for centuries in countries like Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil – yerba maté (pronounced “ma-tay”) is a kind of naturally caffeinated tea that’s traditionally drunk through a straw from a bulbous vessel called a gourd.

It’s also big in Berlin’s club scene, in a less traditional form: the star of a cold, carbonated, similarly caffeinated beverage that’s been around since 1924 but was popularised when German brewery Loscher acquired it in 1994 and called it Club-Mate.

“You go to Berlin and every club has [it] on the bar, everyone is drinking it, either on its own or with booze ... or other stimulants,” says Yani Tsapaliaris, co-owner of Yes Maté, one of a handful of new local brands putting their own spin on the drink in Australia.

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Like many party-prone visitors to Berlin, Tsapaliaris caught the Club-Mate bug there, but back home in Adelaide he found it hard to get his hands on it. Likewise for Isabelle Cogo, a founder of Melbourne’s Supermaté. They both saw a gap in the market, and got to work.

Every brand makes theirs a little differently, but the process always starts with bulk-brewing yerba maté, laying the foundations with mildly earthy and bitter notes. Then comes the flavour-balancing, with the likes of citric acid and sweeteners, though this class of drinks is low (or no) sugar. Some brands use natural flavourings; others let the tea shine. And then it’s time for carbonation and packaging, in brightly branded cans or bottles.

The result is a bubbly drink that’s also energy-boosting. “It’s all about that natural buzz,” says Tsapaliaris, but with “a smoother high than coffee”, says Cogo. While yerba maté’s caffeine content is similar to that of coffee, it’s said to give drinkers less nervousness.

“When we launched, education was one of our trickiest hurdles,” says Cogo. “So many people didn’t know what yerba maté was.” But with the help of passionate hospo staff who understand the product – and more exposure for punters – it’s slowly gaining traction. “We recently started stocking Revolver,” says Cogo of Melbourne’s most notorious nightclub.

Part of that growth must have to do with the ability of these drinks to cross categories so seamlessly. They can be a coffee alternative, to help you beat that 3pm slump; an alcohol alternative, when you want a buzz on a night out while staying sober (Supermaté’s slogan is “0 Per Cent Alc, 100 Per Cent Vibe”); or even a mixer, with your spirit of choice.

Regardless of how you drink your yerba maté, here are four locally made versions to try, as well as the German original.

Yes Maté

Where’s it made? Underdale, Adelaide.
Go-to flavour? Mandarin, for a fragrant, floral hit that pairs perfectly with gin.
Where can I buy it? Online or at a handful of stockists.

Supermaté

Where’s it made? Preston, Melbourne.
Go-to flavour? Original, the only flavour, really lets the tea do the talking.
Where can I buy it? Online or at dozens of stockists across Melbourne, including Blackhearts & Sparrows, Carwyn Cellars and Wild Things.

Matéo Soda

Where’s it made? Yarra Valley, Victoria.
Go-to flavour? Ginger – a real zinger best served over ice with a slice of orange.
Where can I buy it? Stockists include some of Melbourne’s best bars – like Caretaker’s Cottage, Bahama Gold and Clover, plus a bunch in NSW and WA.

Naturally Driven

Where’s it made? Melbourne, Victoria.
Go-to flavour? Yuzu, for a big citrusy boost to your afternoon.
Where can I buy it? Online or at hundreds of stockists Australia-wide.

Club-Mate

Where’s it made? Münchsteinach, Germany.
Go-to flavour? While cola and pomegranate variations exist, the OG is a classic
Where can I buy it? Online or at dozens of stockists Australia-wide.