Mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) has been used for centuries and is widely consumed in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The aim of the present study was to determine how growing and drying conditions affect the phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity of 15 Mate teas from forest or plantation cultivations, dried either with hot air or wood smoke. The total polyphenol concentration determined with Folin-Ciocalteu ranged from 100.3 +/- 5.5 to 179.7 +/- 3.6 mg equiv chlorogenic acid/g dry leaves. The antioxidant capacity according to the oxygen radical absorbance capacity assay ranged from 1.5 +/- 0.3 to 4.1 +/- 0.1 mmol Trolox equiv/g dry leaves. Ten phenolic compounds were identified and correlated with antioxidant capacity (R (2) = 0.80). Principle component analysis and multivariate linear regression were conducted to assess the effect of growing and drying conditions. Sun-exposed (plantation grown) Mate teas exhibited higher levels of all polyphenols as compared to shaded (forest grown) Mate teas (P < 0.05). Lower rainfall, temperature, and drying conditions had varying effects on the phenolics. On average, plantation grown Mate teas had a greater concentration of phenolics than forest grown teas. Thus, plantation grown Mate teas represent better potential sources for their commercial extraction.