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This yerba mate has some big shoes to fill — Cruz de Malta is a highly popular and respectable brand in the mate world. It inevitably will be compared to their flagship, Cruz de Malta Tradicional, but it is a whole different yerba mate that I dare you to approach with an open and clean mind. It is different from its traditional brother and almost feels more Paraguayan than Argentine, and can serve as an interesting break from regular mates, especially in the hot summer days — flavored with mint and boldo, this yerba is great for both hot mate and cold tereré.
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As a flavored yerba mate, Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta has a very strong and distinctive aroma — the earthiness of yerba mate is accentuated by sweet and spicy woodiness of slightly camphor boldo, while mint here is more vegetal and peppery, rather than fresh and, well, minty. Herbs and yerba mate don’t interfere with each other in the nose of Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta and combine very well. Overall, this yerba mate has an extremely pleasant and fragrant smell that is a welcomed change from traditional non-flavored yerba mates.
Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta has a nice and evenly ground con palo cut. Despite being an Argentine yerba mate, this cut is heavier on the powder, making it very close to Paraguayan hybrid cut. I believe it is intentional — Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta is positioned as yerba mate that is good not only as a traditional hot mate but also as a cold refreshing tereré. Mint and boldo are not visually present in the cut of this yerba mate because they are added as a flavoring and not as an actual dry leaf, but are intended to make the flavor more bright and pronounced in the ice-cold water.
Nice amount of small to medium-sized stems and varied cut leaves that have a nice dark-green uniform color finish this interesting and well-thought cut of Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta.
Being a con palo yerba mate, Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta is really easy to prepare — I had no problems drinking this mate no matter what bombilla I used. Extra powder helps with maintaining the mountain of yerba and a sufficient amount of stems aid with the filtration and prevent clogging.
When it comes to a hot mate, Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta in my experience likes the water that has a bit lower temperature than usual.
60°C-65°C/140°F-150°F water makes a mate that is more balanced and herbal, which is the whole point of a flavoring it with boldo and mint. I found that water that is more hot masks those herbal flavors and makes this mate more ordinary and dull.
Tereré from Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta is ridiculously easy to make — all you need is some ice and some cold water. Higher powder content makes it easy to mold the mountain of yerba and extend the duration of this tereré even in the slippery guampa.
Fresh and peppery mint is the first thing that strikes me when I take a sip of hot Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta. It is a bit strong and straightforward, but I like it — this mate instantly shows you that it is special and not the same as traditional non-flavored blends. Boldo stays surprisingly quiet in hot water and is almost undetectable. Despite being so prominent in the beginning, the mint doesn’t take the front seat — it quickly gives its place to a notably well-balanced and earthy mate. Nice and round medium body with the right amount of bitterness and almost no sweetness at all, this mate would be good on its own which should not come as a surprise — Cruz de Malta Tradicional is one of the best yerba mates that I have had the pleasure of drinking. However it quickly becomes obvious to me that this mate is not as rich and complex — it makes sense that Cruz de Malta uses their best yerba for traditional non-flavored mate, while the remaining simpler yerba goes into flavored blends, like this one. Don’t get discouraged though, it is still a damn good mate that combines herbal and earthy flavors really nicely and makes it a worthy addition to the highly respectable Cruz de Malta yerba mate lineup.
This blend is also fantastic in tereré and is a great example of Argentine yerba mate that makes a perfect Paraguayan drink. It has everything that a proper Paraguayan tereré is known and loved for — savory spiciness and woodiness with the right amount of bitterness and a very slight sweetness. The flavors are not bleak and cold water releases them nicely and fully. Even the added herbs sort of “emulate” the fresh yuyos that are typically added to tereré in Paraguay — boldo is more dominant out of two flavorings, providing that unique camphor aspect to the taste. Mint is also present in the flavor, but it is very subtle, reminding me of Kurupí Clásica that also had that slight hint of mint, despite being an unflavored yerba mate. Since Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta is flavored with mint, I kind of wish it would be more pronounced and fresh in tereré. On the other hand, mint can easily overshadow all the other flavors, so that’s not something I am disappointed about.
Although boldo was almost unnoticed in the taste, it really started to shine in the finish of this hot mate, providing that extra bitterness and pleasant medicinal camphor note. Long and noticeable finish of Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta with a fresh minty background may not make this mate very drinkable but serves as a nice final chord to those bright earthy and herbal flavors.
Boldo is pronounced and aplenty to entertain you with an array of spicy and woodsy flavors in the aftertaste of tereré aswell. Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta also felt more drinkable in cold water, despite having as equally strong finish as the hot mate.
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Coming from Cruz de Malta Tradicional, I had high hopes for this hot mate in regard to its durability. Luckily it didn’t disappoint — Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta had the same long durability — on average it became lavado after around 30 refills, which is very impressive.
Tereré from this yerba mate was shorter — on average it took around 20 refills of ice-cold water to become lavado. Flavors peak in the middle of the session, around 10 refills in, and gradually become washed by the end of it.
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
Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta has an amazingly smooth yet strong energizing effect — gradual and sustainable, this mate never caused caffeine crash when drank hot and was a perfect morning mate. Despite being highly energetic, it was also fine to drink in the afternoon and even in the evening, as it never had a bad effect on my sleep.
Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta is also very invigorating and refreshing in cold water — unlike hot mate, tereré was too overpowering to drink in the evening. The energy was not as gradual, which is fine for mornings, but pretty uncomfortable for evening drinking. I would recommend to enjoy tereré from Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta in the morning only and try to slow down your drinking cadence so that the energy won’t hit you too fast and hard.
What are your thoughts on Cruz de Malta Boldo y Menta? 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
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
Infusion of yerba mate, similar to mate but prepared with cold water and ice. Most popular way of consuming yerba mate in Paraguay. Usually is drank with addition of yuyos from guampa. Wikipedia article
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.
Plural of yuyo. In Spanish, term yuyos is used to describe any kind of wild herbs used as a condiment for food or drink. Yuyos as a tereré condiment are very popular in Paraguay and are used as a flavor enhancement or for their medicinal properties.
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.