Yerba mate (Rioplatense Spanish) or erva mate (Portuguese) (Ilex paraguariensis) is a species of holly (family Aquifoliaceae) native to subtropical South America in Argentina, southern Paraguay, southern Uruguay and southern Brazil. The infusion called mate is prepared by steeping the dried leaves in hot water rather than boiling water like tea or coffee. It is slightly less potent than coffee and much gentler on the stomach. Drinking mate with friends from a shared hollow gourd (also called a mate in Spanish, or cabaÃ§a or cuia in Portuguese) with a metal straw (a bombilla in Spanish, bomba or canudo in Portuguese) is an extremely common social practice in Argentina, Uruguay, southern Paraguay, the east side of Chile and southern Bolivia and Brazil. Its use has also been introduced into Lebanon and Syria, particularly among the Alawi and Druze minority. The flavor of brewed yerba mate is strongly vegetal, herbal, and grassy, reminiscent of some varieties of green tea, though the flavor is much stronger than green tea can achieve. Many consider the flavor to be very agreeable, however, it is generally bitter if steeped in water at boiling point and is traditionally made using boiling water combined with a little cold water. Unlike most teas, it does not become bitter and astringent when steeped for extended periods, and the leaves may be infused several times. Additionally, one can purchase flavored mate, in orange, raspberry, strong, and gentle flavorings.