Mate is rich in caffeine and was used as a caffeine beverage in Latin America before the advent of coffee as the caffeine content is comparable to that of a mild Arabica coffee. It has a greenish and vegetative character. Mate leaves are processed somewhat like tealeaves. The tips of the branches are cut just before the leaves reach full growth and the leaves are steamed and dried (in fired mate the leaves are dried over fires) The dried leaves are sifted and allowed to age in order to enhance the flavor of the mate.