Mate is a commonwealth expression for a male friend or stranger, but pronounced differently it’s also a kind of tea. A very popular kind in Argentina, drunk from a silver straw among friends. The mate ritual is reminiscent of watching a joint getting passed around a pot circle. Someone drinks and then passes it to their friend, and around it goes. There only seems to be one rule, and only foreigners like myself manage to mess it up. Do not touch the straw. Apparently, moving the straw gets it clogged up with tea particles so it no longer can be drunk from. Touch the straw and every Argentinian will shout at you to stop at once.
It’s a nice ritual. As for the drink itself, it’s a decent tea. I’m not a big tea drinker, so I can’t offer much beyond that. I do like the social aspect of it, but just like the pot circle, you don’t actual have to partake to sit with your friends.