Hi people, I'm from Argentina, I grew up drinking mate and I also really love tea. That's why and how I discovered this forum.
I've been reading some of the post about mate, and I think I can offer some advices.
FIRST: NEVER use boiling water on yerba. It is better to use the same temperature as for green teas like sencha (between 160°F - 170°F (70°C - 80°C). I've read many people complaining about burning their lips with the metal bombilla: that's probably because the water is too hot.
When the water is too hot, what happens is that the leaves of yerba get "cook" and so the flavor is initially too bitter and astringent and at the same time it looses it flavor rapidly (when prepared in a gourd as in the traditional way). Also, when the water boils it releases oxigen, then.. the flavor changes because the leaves are "cooked" and because of the oxygen lost (At least is what the "popular believes" say around here).
When prepared in the gourd with the bombilla, what we do is to pour a little bit of cold or warm water first to humidify the leaves, and then the hot (but not boiling) water. After that first step, you can continue drinking with the hot water from a thermo or a kettle. This is a way to avoid over cooking the leaves, and to avoid a too strong initial flavor.
SECOND: try to avoid drinking mate in the evening. For those who aren't really use to it, the awakening effect may be too strong and one can end up with insomnia. If you are going out that night or you are a student planning to stay up late studying, it's a perfect replacement from coffee. The "mateine" contained in yerba does not have much of the side effects of coffee: like accelerating the heart rate.
THIRD: Warden gave an excellent advice for yerba mate beginners: try to add honey at first. My french canadian boyfriend who loves mate was even taking it with maple syrup (and it was fantastic!)
And LAST but not LEAST: sorry for the horrible english, and if you have any questions or I can help with any mate information you can ask me here or by mail soldenot "at" gmail.com