Yerba mate is made with hot, not boiling water. It can be steeped for a long time without getting bitter. Even thought it is an herbal, it is unique in that it does contain caffeine and other stimulants. Many people believe that, like tea, the effects are not as jarring as coffee.
I find the flavor to be strong, different than tea, and kind of earthy. I've heard the flavor described as a cross between tea and coffee and I think that's a good assessment. I enjoy yerba mate, but it's not my go-to drink. That's as much socialization as anything, I suppose. Were I from South America, I'm sure it would be part of my beverage routine.
Have you ever tried yerba mate? What was your experience?
*Images from wikipedia and google images