No, not ‘mate’ as in your Australian friend, ‘mah-tay’ as in the Argentinian tea. Everybody drinks it constantly here to the extent that water dispensers have hot water so you can top up your mate on the go. The Yerba Mate plant is a species of the holly genus and is a native of southern Brazil, and the tea drunk throughout South America. It is quite bitter – a herby bitter rather than a coffee bitter – although it can be served dulce, (sweet with sugar). To make it, you put the leaves straight in the cup and add water. I bought myself a little mate cup this morning at the street market (made from a gourd) with the obligatory filtering straw to sip it through.