Aguantadora Selección Especial definitely feels like an overall improvement over the regular Aguantadora Tradicional in pretty much all areas. 2 years of aging and careful selection of yerba mate give Aguantadora Selección Especial that needed character, complexity and charm. An easy yerba mate to recommend for both new materos and experienced aficionados of mate.
Aguantadora Selección Especial has a very fragrant, sweet, rich and also quite savory aroma. It smells like a delicious pastry or cookies — not that commercial and overly sweet product that we see in the grocery stores, but something that is made at home or in a fancy bakery. I also get a touch of earth and some dry fruits in this doughy and comforting ensemble of aromas — Aguantadora Selección Especial smells like Argentine yerba mate and beyond with layers of complexity that are rarely found in the majority of mass-produced brands.
There is not much to say about the look of the cut of Aguantadora Selección Especial — it has a fairly standard con palo Argentine cut that is a bit on the coarser and less dusty side to call it perfectly balanced. Color is nicely saturated for an aged yerba mate and features some inclusions of slightly toasted brownish leaves, indicating the standard drying method.
What’s really worth mentioning is the aging on this yerba mate — Aguantadora ages their selección especial yerba mate for 24 months, which really does make it special and gives it that rich and well-rounded pleasant nose.
As an Argentine con palo yerba mate, Aguantadora Selección Especial is super easy to prepare — coarse cut that is low on powder makes this yerba mate very welcoming to any type of bombilla, be it spring bombilla, spoon bombilla or slotted bombilla, and allows me to use those bombillas that are more beautiful but are less practical. My only nitpick is that I find the amount of dust a bit too low for my liking because lack of powder makes it easier for the mountain of yerba to collapse, which to be fair is not as critical for Argentine yerbas as it is for Uruguayan or Brazilian.
When it comes to the temperature of water, I find that Aguantadora Selección Especial prefers water that is a bit on a colder side, from 60°C to 65°C / 140°F to 150°F . Colder water creates more balanced mate and yields in a longer durability, but even if you prefer your mate to be much hotter, Aguantadora Selección Especial won’t disappoint you and will be quite delicious, albeit shorter.
Most convenient way to get ideal water temperature is to use an electric kettle or a stovetop kettle with temperature control. If you prefer traditional kettle you can use a infrared thermometer or a food thermometer .
I could definitely tell this is a premium yerba mate right from the first sip of Aguantadora Selección Especial. It is rich and quite burly for an Argentine yerba mate, definitely medium-bodied, almost to a point of being full, granted that you’re using 60°C - 65°C / 140°F - 150°F water. I can taste sweet aged dried fruits that are perfectly balanced by bitter earthy and tobacco Argentine yerba mate flavor. Fruity notes constantly change and keep me amused — plums, apricots, cherries, peaches, apples and pears come and go from sip to sip, subtle yet noticeable. Don’t be put off by the notes of tobacco — it’s not ashtray smoky cigarette tobacco, but more of a sweet, plummy, molasses-forward pipe tobacco notes that are usually mentioned in perfumery.
At higher water temperatures Aguantadora Selección Especial loses some of its complexity, but still remains everything and even more than you may expect from the premium, aged special selection Argentine yerba mate.
The aftertaste of Aguantadora Selección Especial aligns very nicely with its taste, and is quite long and pronounced. It continues on that fruity-tobacco theme, allowing me to ponder the complexity of the flavors if I wish to do so, as those fruity notes change in the mouth on their own without even having to take a next sip. Aguantadora Selección Especial lets you choose a drinking cadence if you would like to quickly go through the gourdful or savor each sip in a long drinking session.
As I mentioned earlier, colder water, around 60°C - 65°C / 140°F - 150°F , yields a longer mate from Aguantadora Selección Especial compared to hotter temperatures. In this case you can definitely expect at least 20 refills, making it a no-nonsense moderate mate. With water that is hotter than 70°C / 160°F you can lose a significant amount of refills — personally, I was never able to get more than 14 to be specific.
The last thing you want while drinking mate is to constantly re-heat your water or add more ice to it. No matter if it's hot mate or cold tereré, use a vacuum bottle or a very popular in South America mate thermos with sprout.
Similarly to Piporé Hierbas Serranas, this mate was neutral enough to be considered safe to drink in the evening while still providing some energy in the morning. However, the amount of energy this time was not enough for me to classify it as an energizing mate in my book because it was more of a clarity and focus that is inherent to yerba mate in general rather than the actual caffeine energy. Personally, I would prefer this increased productivity and creativity, but if you’re looking for mate that will provide you with a nice energy kick, Aguantadora Selección Especial may not be for you.
Special thanks to Un Mate Europe for providing Aguantadora Selección Especial for this review!
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