Fresh green tasty smell is inherent to Brazilian erva mate, and Barão Tradicional doesn’t disappoint. Fresh-cut grass is the first thing that comes to mind when I take the first whiff of this erva mate. It is also a relatively sweet and very pleasant smell that instantly brings my mind to early summer days. Fresh peas and, believe it or not — newly started compost — round up the wonderfully green and pungent nose of Barão Tradicional.
No surprise that this erva mate has a distinctive Brazilian cut — the leaves are grinded so fine that it becomes extremely hard to distinguish them among the powder. On the other hand, stems are very much present and vary from small splinters to huge, long and thick woody branches.
The bright green color of Barão Tradicional ideally represents the nose of this erva mate — it looks very fresh and appealing, somewhat resembling a matcha tea.
The proper trouble-free preparation of chimarrão deserves a separate article, so I won’t dive deep into that in this review. Overall, I would not consider any chimarrão a beginner-friendly mate, but there are few things that are specific to Barão Tradicional that I want to point out.
In my opinion, Barão Tradicional is a very predictable erva mate, that makes it a great candidate for the first chimarrão. In that sense it is an excellent erva mate to perfect your chimarrão preparation skills, because that predictability will make it easy to understand the physics of such fine cut, how it behaves in your cuia, how to avoid clogging of bomba and how to properly turn the mountain of fine erva once it becomes lavado on one side. You will still need a proper Brazilian bomba with good filtration system, but once you perfected other regional cuts of yerba mate, like Argentine and Uruguayan, Barão Tradicional will be, in my opinion, a great erva mate to start your chimarrão journey. In that regard it is one of the most beginner-friendly erva mate out there.
As for the temperature, personally I like the water to a bit hotter than usual with Brazilian erva mate, and Barão Tradicional is no exclusion. For me, it seems that water between 75°C - 80°C / 165°C - 175°F extracts a bit more flavors from erva mate, that is usually more mellow than, say, Paraguayan yerba mate.
Most convenient way to get ideal water temperature is to use an electric kettle with temperature control like this one. If you prefer traditional kettle you can use laser thermometer or simpler food thermometer.
I find the dynamic of the taste of Barão Tradicional to be very interesting. It starts of very soft and slow, so don’t get discouraged if this chimarrão seems tasteless to you after the first couple of refills. Those refills taste pretty boring — grassy flavors don’t have enough balance and complexity to keep me entertained, there are no sweetness and bitterness — Barão Tradicional slowly lures you into thinking that it is a very light-bodied drink that is easy on the palate. And it is — until you turn the mate, hoping to extract at least a bit more flavor.
That’s when Barão Tradicional hits you without warning — it starts to fire on all cylinders right off the bat. If you pay attention, you may notice that saponine foam becomes much more pronounced, which is a clear indication of incoming flavor bomb — all of a sudden Barão Tradicional becomes much more bold, brave, in-your-face kind of chimarrão. It finally finds its voice and is not afraid to show its real face. That chimarrão doesn’t become more complex, but it gains in body, and most importantly in balance, that makes this unexpected transition feel like a joyful twist on a roller coaster.
Long and noticeable aftertaste continues the fresh grassy motif of Barão Tradicional. It stays the same over the whole duration of drinking this chimarrão, even when it enters the lavado state. I also notice faint notes of hazelnuts and a tiny bit of iodine flavor in the finish of Barão Tradicional, which is not off-putting and doesn’t bother me at all.
This roller coaster is a short one — as with majority of Brazilian erva mate brands, on average Barão Tradicional enters lavado state closer to 15 refills. To maximize the duration of your chimarrão don’t forget to turn the erva multiple times. Remember — it is a very fine mate, so one turn may not be enough because the water will not be able to completely penetrate the erva and some of it will still remain dry. Also, don’t be hesitant to occasionally throw the used erva away, because it expands more with water than coarser Argentine or Paraguayan yerba mate.
The last thing you want while drinking mate is to constantly re-heat you water or add more ice to it. No matter if it's hot mate or cold tereré, use a vacuum bottle or a thermos.
Maybe it’s just me, maybe it is hotter water, but Barão Tradicional seems to be more caffeinated and energizing than average mate out there. The effects start to kick off quickly and are reminiscent of coffee in that regard, minus the negative after effects. I would call this erva mate a morning chimarrão, however due to the longer and more cumbersome preparation I mainly drank it on weekend mornings.
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