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I like it when manufacturers make yerba mates from their lineup different from each other and unique, and Canarias Edición Especial is exactly that. A complete 180° from their flagship yerba mate, Canarias Tradicional, this special selection is indeed special, but most importantly — it’s really different. Whether you loved the traditional version or hated it, I highly encourage you to experience Canarias Edición Especial for yourself and I guarantee that you will be surprised.
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Canarias Edición Especial has a very nice, aged and fragrant aroma. It smells perfumy and almost not like yerba mate at all. This yerba mate has a very woodsy and spicy nose — I’m thinking of a sawdust of palo santo wood with a touch of piney and resin aroma, and maybe even some cedarwood. Canarias Edición Especial smells like a woodshop where they make expensive wooden furniture and I love it. Add to that some sweet notes of an aging, but not fermenting tobacco leaf and what you’ll get is a very unique and distinctive aroma, that is noticeably different to a classic Canarias Tradicional.
Canarias Edición Especial has a typical Uruguayan yerba mate PU-1 cut which is very fine with a high powder content and almost no stems. In that regard it’s pretty similar to its brother and is a little bit finer than other popular yerba mate from Uruguay — Sara Tradicional.
The color of Canarias Edición Especial is very uniform and serves as a nice example of a special selection yerba mate. It actually looks like yerba mate leaves were carefully picked, dried and aged to form a product that looks very high in quality with its saturated olive green color, especially compared to a more bleak and grey-ish Canarias Tradicional.
As I mentioned earlier, the cut of Canarias Edición Especial is quite fine and powdery, even to a Uruguayan standard.
Finer cut makes it more tricky to prepare this yerba mate and will require more skill and better tools.
It’s really easy to get your bombilla clogged while drinking Canarias Edición Especial, so you will need something more specialized, like
spoon bombilla or maybe even a Brazilian
Another thing that helps with clogging issues is a proper molding technique to create a nice separation between the mountain of yerba and water hole for your bombilla. People new to Uruguayan yerba mate will have a hard time with Canarias Edición Especial and would find more newbie-friendly yerba mates like Sara Tradicional or Del Cebador Clásica, but for seasoned matero, especially the one who had a previous experience with Canarias yerba mates, should be up for the challenges presented by the cut of this yerba mate.
Temperature-wise, I find that the perfect range for Canarias Edición Especial is between
70°Cand80°C/160°Fand175°F. You can, although quite carefully, go beyond that temperature and not lose much of the flavor, but I would not recommend going as low as
60°C/140°F as it seems to be not enough to extract all the flavor from this mate.
Coming from Canarias Tradicional, I was expecting at least some of those rugged, leathery, soily flavors to come up in the taste of Canarias Edición Especial. But the fragrant and spicy nose hinted at a mate that is completely different, which it is — Canarias Edición Especial is nothing like its traditional version. Smooth, creamy and buttery mouthfeel is accompanied by malty and grainy notes, reminiscent of an unsweetened cereal like the ones that are usually branded as a healthier alternative to a regular cereal.
I don’t taste any of the papery and musty flavors from Canarias Tradicional, and to my surprise I struggle to pick up any woodsy notes that were so abundant in the nose of this yerba mate. I can also taste some camomile, even though Canarias Edición Especial is not a compuesta. Finally, a taste of cherry bit concludes an interesting set of flavors of this mate.
Not necessarily more complex than Canarias Tradicional, this mate is simply different — the flavors are much more “edible” in Canarias Edición Especial for the lack of a better term — and I would never guess that these two yerba mates belong to the same brand. Other than being syrupy and full-bodied, it’s even hard to draw parallels between Canarias Edición Especial and other Uruguayan yerba mates, which makes it definitely worthy of earning a permanent spot on a shelf.
Another surprise waited for me in the aftertaste of Canarias Edición Especial, but this time not quite as pleasant. The finish of this mate was not as long as I thought it would be and had medicinal and iodine aftertaste to it which felt a bit off. I was quite disappointed not to be able to pick up anything else, but the finish was not that pronounced to ruin the overall impression of Canarias Edición Especial and actually made this mate more drinkable, letting me have one sip after another with zero pauses, and after some time ignore the aftertaste completely and focus on its good qualities.
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Despite having to turn this mate quite early on (around 8th or 9th refill), Canarias Edición Especial always managed to surpass 20 refills, often reaching a very promising 25 refills. I would consider it a moderate mate which sits a bit higher on the durability spectrum, depending on where you would consider it to be washed. Speaking of lavado — the flavors of Canarias Edición Especial washed up gradually and gracefully and it was still enjoyable even after this mate lost most of its taste.
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,
or a very popular in South America
No matter if I was enjoying Canarias Edición Especial in the morning or in the evening, it always had the same potent effect — invigorating, energizing and focusing. Do not sit still while drinking this mate, as it will make you feel a bit jittery — Canarias Edición Especial is a perfect companion for a busy morning when you run around the house and need to get a lot of stuff done before noon.
I would advise you not to drink this mate at the end of the day as it seems to have a relatively high caffeine content and may disturb your sleep, as it did in my case.
What are your thoughts on Canarias Edición Especial? Comment below!
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Pronounced [YER-bah MAH-teh] (or [SHER-bah MAH-teh] in Rioplatense Spanish). Also known as Ilex paraguariensis, a holly plant natively grown in South America, particularly in Northern Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil (the term erva mate is used there more often). Yerba mate is used to make a beverage known as mate in Spanish, or chimarrão in Portugese. Oftenly, the term yerba mate is used to describe not only a plant, but also a final product of grinding, drying and aging the plant. Wikipedia article
South American tree, also known as Bursera graveolens. Translates as holy stick from Spanish. Palo santo is a popular material for gourds because its naturally sweet, fragrant and unique smelling wood contributes to the flavor of mate.
Short for Padrón Uruguayo 1, or Uruguayan Standard 1 — one of three common standards of yerba mate cut in Uruguay. Yerba mate that is marked as P.U.1 consists of not less than 90% of pulverized dried leaves, and not more than 10% of finely ground dried stems. P.U.1 is the finest cut out of three. Most popular type of cut in Uruguay.
Special selection in Spanish. When yerba mate is branded as selección especial it usually means that leaves and plant material are carefully selected before being used to produce such yerba mate. That, oftenly combined with longer aging process, results in yerba mate that has very rich taste compared to the regular yerba mate from same manufacturer.
When mate is prepared traditionally, a mountain of yerba is yerba that is located inside the gourd in form of slope, that is exposed to hot water while drinking. Proper mountain of yerba will be always half-dry and half-wet, which results in more balanced and long mate. On the opposite side of mountain is the water hole.
An empty space inside the gourd, that is created by moving all yerba mate to one side when building a mountain of yerba during the traditional preparation. Water is poured into the waterhole to draw flavor from yerba that is facing it.
Pronounced [MAH-teh]. Traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink, very popular in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Southern Brazil (the term chimarrão is used there more often). It is prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate in the gourd. Sometimes the gourd itself is referred to as mate. Wikipedia article
Act of moving the mountain of yerba to the opposite side, revealing the dry slope of yerba. Turning the yerba is used while drinking mate traditionally, when it starts to become tastless on one side and is usually performed with bombilla. The final result of turning is new mountain of yerba with dry slope that can be refilled with water to get more fresh taste from yerba mate.
Spanish adjective which means washed. Used as a term to point out that all the flavors “washed away” from mate and it becomes tasteless. The more refills yerba mate can take before becoming lavado, the longer durability it has.