Having such a beautiful smell and possibility to prepare it with cold water, CBSé Guaraná feels like it promised too much and then underdelivered in almost every category. With such a flashy and pretty package, with what you experience when you first open the bag, I can’t help but say it again — don’t judge the book by its cover, in both ways.
The first whiff of CBSé Guaraná is absolutely magical. The smell of guarana is very fruity, berry and candy-like; the scent of a freshly opened pack of Jolly Ranchers or any other fruity hard candy completely covers the aroma of yerba mate. After smelling CBSé Guaraná for some time and getting accustomed to its super sweet nose, other notes start to come up. I get dough, cookies, fruitcake and other heavenly smelling bakery and pastry. A very delicious nose that leaves an amazing first impression and makes you excited to get a taste of this mate.
CBSé Guaraná is a compuesta that consists of dry extract of guarana, menthol and guarana flavoring, and other unnamed herbs, apart from the yerba mate itself. It is an Argentine aged yerba mate with a traditional con palo cut. The balance of stems, leaves and powder is pretty good, although there is one distinct feature of this cut — aside from the medium-sized stems that are the most common in the Argentine con palo yerba mate, the cut of CBSé Guaraná contains no fewer thin and tiny splinters, making it look overall lighter and more akin to Paraguayan yerba mate. With such cut, I would expect a lighter-bodied mate that does not shine light on its flavor of yerba mate in order to let flavoring play the leading role.
Other than that, it is a pretty standard con palo cut — pale and desaturated, as expected from an aged yerba mate, quite uniform with inclusions of darker brown leaves, indicating a standard drying method with a quick open fire.
The hot mate proves to be very forgiving — the durability and the taste remained stable no matter the temperature of water. I preferred to drink CBSé Guaraná with water that is a bit on a colder side — about 65°C - 75°C / 150°F - 165°F because of the certain negative aspect in the finish of this mate that I’ll elaborate more on later. It seemed to be less prominent with colder water and more noticeable with hotter water.
The extra added flavoring made me think of trying to prepare tereré from CBSé Guaraná. And despite it being an Argentine yerba mate, it was actually pretty decent and not tasteless at all. Obviously it is not a tereré-first yerba mate, so the main advice for making an enjoyable tereré out of CBSé Guaraná is to let it steep for some time after a refill — be patient and don’t sip it right away, let the cold water infuse this yerba mate. Speaking of water, there’s nothing new here for this tereré — the only thing you’ll need is cold water and some ice to keep it cool in your thermos.
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 .
As I mentioned earlier, despite the beautifully fragrant nose, the cut of this yerba mate does not imply a rich and complex taste profile. In general this is the case with CBSé Guaraná — this mate is pretty simple and no-nonsense. As I expected, yerba mate here is mellow, light and serves merely as a vehicle for the main selling point — guarana, which is sweet, fruity and slightly woodsy. In the taste of this mate I am also starting to get menthol notes that were absent in the nose of CBSé Guarana.
Honestly, there is not much more to say about the taste of this mate — it is a totally drinkable, simple, herbal and slightly sweet infusion with no harsh earthy or smoky notes, but nothing really to write home about.
The first and most obvious note in the taste of CBSé Guaraná tereré is again guarana. It is sweet with notes of tutti frutti gum, but with colder water it also has chalky and papery undertone to it. A very mild bitterness either from guarana extract or the yerba mate (or maybe both) is also present in the taste of this tereré. As with hot mate, it is hard to distinguish nuanced notes of yerba mate that makes the majority of this compuesta, although I can taste some herbal, hay, earthy and woodsy subtle notes in CBSé Guaraná. Aside from that, the flavors of CBSé Guaraná are pretty simple — don’t try to find here a lot of complexity.
I would be perfectly fine with a simple, even if somewhat boring mate, but the aftertaste of CBSé Guaraná is where it starts to bug me. After a certain while, a sweet herbal and minty taste turns into an unpleasantly bitter oniony finish. This aftertaste reminded me of a sauteed vegetables, mainly onions and carrots — in and of itself there is nothing wrong with some savory roasted veggies, but when it comes right after a sip of a sweet fruity beverage, it makes the whole experience pretty nasty. It’s not as prominent that I want to stop drinking it immediately — I still finished each mate that I made out of CBSé Guaraná — but this weird finish doesn’t make me want to come back for more. I also found that the hotter is the water, the more noticeable and strong this aftertaste becomes, so if you’re having trouble with the finish of this mate, try using colder water to make it more palatable.
The same problem plagues the aftertaste of the tereré from CBSé Guaraná. At first I even thought that cold water did not manage to extract those unpleasantly vegetative notes, but with more and more sips it sort of builds up and accumulates on your tastebuds, becoming more pronounced and spoiling the experience. To be fair it is still more tolerable than in hot mate, but I just wish that it would not be there at all.
Light and simple flavors tend to wash away pretty quickly (although there are exclusions), and CBSé Guaraná is not an exception. It is a short mate — I was never able to get past 15 refills. Obviously there was no evolution to the taste of the CBSé Guaraná — all the flavors can be tasted right from the first refill.
Durability of tereré from CBSé Guaraná is no different. With such a subtle cold water infusion it’s hard to precisely tell when it becomes lavado. Still, I never felt like any refill past 15th mark had enough flavor to count it towards the total durability, also making CBSé Guaraná a short tereré.
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.
Despite the main feature of this yerba mate, which is the addition of dry guarana extract, I haven’t noticed a full blast of energy as I expected it to be. Guarana is a highly energizing ingredient on its own, and combined with inherent caffeine content of yerba mate I though CBSé created a Red Bull of mates! Sure, it will help you clear your head in the morning and will provide all the mental and physical health benefits, but it wasn’t so energizing to be avoided in the evening — I slept absolutely fine after drinking CBSé Guaraná before bed on multiple occasions.
Strangely enough, tereré from CBSé Guaraná was not able to give me a strong chilling and refreshing sensations either. Usually, tereré-friendly yerbas, such as Paraguayan ones, are super cooling which is a lifesaver on a hot summer day, but CBSé Guaraná doesn’t seem to have such effect on me. This tereré would be a good choice for colder and maybe even rainy weather, when you are in the mood for some cold-brewed mate but do not want to freeze. When it comes to energy, since hot water was not able to release enough caffeine to make CBSé Guarana an energizing mate, don’t expect this tereré to be invigorating either. You can expect, however, a steady stream of focus, concentration and productivity — in this case CBSé Guaraná is no different to any other yerba mate out there.
What are your thoughts on CBSé Guaraná? Comment below!