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Club Mate Is The Hipster Energy Drink You Need To Try

Berlin's best kept secret.

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Spend any time in tech circles in Berlin and you'll come across Club Mate (pronounced mah-ta, like stigmata).

It's a plant-based energy drink, kind of like a cola, but lighter. The taste is unusual and hard to describe.

"Your first sip tastes like horse urine filtered through hay", according to one enthusiast. I'd say it's more like a cross between tonic water and Lucozade.
Twitter: @halfcube

"Your first sip tastes like horse urine filtered through hay", according to one enthusiast. I'd say it's more like a cross between tonic water and Lucozade.

But it's strangely addictive. Once they've tried it, people tend to become somewhat obsessed.

This tattoo photo comes from the Club Mate fan page on Facebook, which has 120,000 followers.
Facebook: ClubMate.Fanclub

This tattoo photo comes from the Club Mate fan page on Facebook, which has 120,000 followers.

The drink is particularly popular among developers, who find its caffeine content helps them focus.

Instagram: @clubmateusa

For that reason it's been dubbed Hacker-Brause, or "hacker fizz". The drink also has vague hipster connotations. There's a lot of it on Instagram.

It certainly gives you a lift - after drinking my first bottle I could feel my heart pound, and I'm big coffee drinker with a high caffeine tolerance.

Which explains why clubbers mix it with vodka, creating a drink known as Turbo Mate - Berliners' version of a vodka Red Bull.
schubladen.wordpress.com

Which explains why clubbers mix it with vodka, creating a drink known as Turbo Mate - Berliners' version of a vodka Red Bull.

A half-litre bottle contains 100mg of caffeine, which is about twice as much as a can of Diet Coke, and slightly more than a 250ml can of Red Bull.

So it's potent, but probably better for you than a lot of fizzy drinks. It contains half as many calories as Coca Cola (38 kcal / 100 g), and half as much sugar (5g vs 10.6g).

It's suitable for vegans too.
barcoo.com

It's suitable for vegans too.

Plus, it's a decent cocktail mixer. Add rum, sugar and lime, and you've got yourself a Tschunk, a delightfully German spin on the Caipirinha.

Club Mate is just one of many drinks derived from Yerba mate, a plant that grows in South America and has been consumed there as tea for thousands of years.

Other versions of Club Mate include a Winter Edition that's spiced with cinnamon and can be drunk warm, like mulled wine.
en.wikipedia.org

Other versions of Club Mate include a Winter Edition that's spiced with cinnamon and can be drunk warm, like mulled wine.

Though the drink has a cult following in America, it's pretty hard to find outside Germany.

Instagram: @lakulturestrasbourg

So if you want to try it, you'll most likely have to order it yourself online.

Instagram: @clubmateturkey

Alternatively, move to Berlin.

UPDATE

According to Kristof Partyka, who distributes the drink via Club Mate UK, 100 venues in the UK stock Club Mate. He says demand is rising - sales in the UK increased 35% in 2015 - with a strong following among students in particular. "We notice that sales of Club-Mate grow strongly before and during exams," he tells BuzzFeed.