If you are a fan of yerba mates from Cooperativa Liebig you certainly don’t want to miss this one — it rightfully earned its place in the Playadito lineup. This is an exemplary despalada that is actually balanced and tasty without compromising on things that people love sin palo yerba mates for — duration and effects.
Playadito Despalada has a very sweet woodsy and fragrant nose, which is surprising to me, considering that it lacks stems that usually contribute to those aromas. The smell of this yerba mate is very pronounced and strong, and is very pleasant despite being so bold. The candy-like sweetness of Playadito Despalada reminds me of molasses or even cane sugar, and unlike its stemmed brother — Playadito Con Palo — it is not honey-like or floral. Sweetness is pretty straightforward in the nose of Playadito Despalada and a strong background of a sawdust notes makes the smell of it very cozy and overall very delightful.
As you probably have already guessed from its name, this yerba mate is despalada, or in other words it has a sin palo cut, meaning that it doesn’t contain stems and consists mostly of dried ground leaves. Like with majority of despaladas on the market, this Playadito is not completely stemless — I can clearly see some small and thin splinter-like stems in the cut of this yerba mate. This is verified by the information on their website — manufacturer is claiming that despite the fact that Argentine Food Code allows up to 10% of stems in the cut of sin palo yerba mate, their mechanical shaking processes let them lower the amount of stems down to 5%.
Playadito Despalada is also pretty coarse, especially compared to other despaladas, like Taragüi Sin Palo or Piporé Sin Palo. There is almost no dust in the cut of this yerba mate which combined with its coarseness and unevenness gives Playadito Despalada a pretty sharp and wild look.
The color of leaves is also uneven, giving me a whole kaleidoscope of different shades of green to look at, ranging from deep dark mossy, almost brown ones (most likely these are slightly burned and toasted leaves due to uneven distribution during the drying process) to bright and saturated and seemingly more fresh leaves, and even more pale and bleak ones. I’m wondering if Playadito Despalada may actually be a blend of different yerba mate leaves with different drying and aging times, which can explain such variety in the cut of this yerba mate.
For a sin palo yerba mate, Playadito Despalada is really timid and easy to prepare. Occasional stems in its cut make it a tad easier to form a mountain of yerba, and after a few refills, when it becomes decently wet and “pliant”, you as a cebador basically will not need any maintenance, apart from occasional molding of the mountain. Keep in mind though that this yerba mate is still despalada, so the whole process will be a bit trickier in glass, metal or ceramic gourds — beware of the little “avalanches” that will inevitably happen throughout drinking. Luckily, those can be easily corrected with your bombilla by molding the mountain more frequently.
When it comes to the temperature of water, I found that around 70°C / 160°F is really the most optimal for Playadito Despalada to shine, offering the best flavor and the longest duration. Going lower to around 60°C / 140°F is also not bad and is a viable option for those drinkers who have sensitive mouths; however, in my experience it is just not enough temperature to extract the best this mate has to offer. Also if you decide to go higher than 70°C / 160°F you may find that hotter water ruins the flavor and lowers the duration of this mate, so I would not recommend going over that temperature.
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 laser thermometer or a food thermometer .
The first thing that strikes me in the taste of Playadito Despalada is its sweetness. If you have read my Playadito Con Palo review it should not come as a surprise — Cooperativa Liebig is well-known for their naturally sweet yerba mates. Still, I was pleased with the sweetness of this yerba mate, since most of the despaladas are usually pretty bitter and can be a bit hard on the palate, especially for novice drinkers. This is not the case with Playadito Despalada — this yerba mate is probably one of the most balanced, sweet and pleasant despaladas you will be able to find on the market.
When I’m talking about sweetness, I don’t mean a simple sugary taste. Honey, cereal, sweet corn and cookie dough are some of the associations that pop in my mind when I am drinking Playadito Despalada. The taste of this mate is not complex by any means, but even a seasoned matero will find it hard to resist a sip of this mate.
Don’t expect it to be as sweet as Playadito Con Palo or Liebig Original though — the sweetness in this mate is more subtle and not as dominant, letting the natural bitterness shine a bit more and acting more as a counterweight to that bitterness, rather than a main feature.
Despite the pronounced bitterness, Playadito Despalada doesn’t seem to have any harsh earthy notes. Overall I am really enjoying the taste of this mate — in my opinion, the medium complexity of its flavors and light to medium body achieves a nice compromise that can appeal to both novice mate drinkers (especially those who are not familiar with sin palo yerba mates) and experienced materos who may be pleasantly surprised by the balance of this despalada.
The bitter-sweet taste of Playadito Despalada finds it way into the aftertaste of this mate for quite a long-lasting period of time. Playadito Despalada doesn’t want to let you go and to be fair there is no reason for you to want it gone. The flavors and aromas of this mate pleasantly linger without going over the top, creating a nice coherent and smooth drinking experience.
Playadito Con Palo really impressed me with its long duration, so I was expecting the same from Playadito Despalada, especially due to the fact that in my experience sin palo yerba mates usually last longer. I’m happy to say that this mate has a long duration — on average it lasted for about 25 to 30 refills. It makes me think that long duration is a feature of Playadito series, so if you are looking for that kind of mate you will not be disappointed with Playadito Despalada.
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.
When it comes to effects, Playadito Despalada is an amazing example and showcase of what people love about yerba mate so much — a gradual, but steady and long-lasting energy that slowly picks you up, clears your mind and puts you in a highly productive state without any withdrawal or crashing afterwards. The energy was never over the top, it just always felt “right”, so in my opinion this is a perfect morning mate that I appreciated having by my side during the periods of work when I needed productivity, creativity and focus. Materos beware: even though Playadito Despalada is not an extremely caffeinated yerba mate, it certainly gave me a noticeable buzz when I drank it in the evening and made it harder for me to go to sleep, so it is not recommended to enjoy it in the second half of the day.
Special thanks to Un Mate Europe for providing Playadito Despalada for this review!
What are your thoughts on Playadito Despalada? Comment below!