This seemingly predictable and classic Argentine yerba mate actually hides a lot of surprises under its belt. And while Jesper Tradicional doesn’t offer a long durability, a rich and interestingly mature flavor profile will be absolutely enjoyed by seasoned materos, and its flexibility when it comes to preparation methods and techniques will definitely attract people looking for multipurpose yerba mate that will adapt to their needs, instead of forcing people adapt to itself.
Jesper Tradicional smells heavenly — a very strong, sweet, candy-like aroma make my memories instantly travel back to my childhood. Each whiff of this yerba mate uncovers more notes and nuances, arranging itself into a nice bouquet with notes of pastry, cookies, marshmallow, vanilla, maple syrup, fresh buttery croissants and more. With zero earthy, compost or leathery smoky notes as in many yerba mates, Jesper Tradicional smells very welcoming, inviting and seemingly beginner-friendly.
Jesper Tradicional, as the name suggests, has a traditional for Argentina con palo cut that consists of leaves, stems and powder. I would not call this cut balanced though, as it is a bit low on stems and significantly high on powder compared to an average Argentine yerba mate. The size of both leaves and stems is uneven — there are lots of coarse pieces of leaf and thick “logs” alongside with tiny thin splinters and fine leaf particles.
The color of the cut of Jesper Tradicional is not super saturated, as it is an aged yerba mate, but is not so pale and still is quite colorful. A closer look at Jesper Tradicional reveals even more unevenness in its cut, this time in color — it seems that this yerba mate has not been dried uniformly — with inclusions of deep green but also toasted brown leaves.
A fairly dusty cut of Jesper Tradicional does not stand in a way of preparing this mate. A spoon bombilla is still preferable in order to easily mold the mountain of yerba, but other than that Jesper Tradicional should not cause any trouble even to a novice matero.
When it comes to water, Jesper Tradicional is a very forgiving mate that can be enjoyed at any temperature from 60°C to 85°C / 140°F to 185°F . The differences in taste and durability are insignificant, so you are free to choose the temperature that is most comfortable to you. On a bag, manufacturer recommends to use 70°C / 160°F , which became my personal go-to temperature for Jesper Tradicional.
Another interesting information that I found on the package of Jesper Tradicional is that they offered to enjoy it in 3 different ways — as a traditional hot mate, ice-cold tereré and mate cocido. And while mate cocido is not my cup of tea (pun intended), being able to make tereré out of Argentine yerba mate got my attention. Skeptical at first, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Jesper Tradicional turned out to be a great tereré that compares very favorably with Paraguayan brands. All it needs is cold water, some ice and a little patience as it will start off slowly, gaining its full flavor after about 5 initial refills.
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 a traditional Argentine con palo yerba mate, Jesper Tradicional tastes exactly how you would expect — earthy, moderately bitter and naturally sweet. I get dry fruits — plums, apricots, and even an overripe banana. It is very tobaccoey in a good way, like a quality Cuban cigar or a non-aromatic but inherently fragrant and sweet Virginia pipe tobacco. I also get hay, wood bark and a note of cork from a bottle of white wine. Slightly doughy, cookie-dipped-in-milk kind of vibe creates a medium-bodied mouthfeel and rounds up the overall flavor ensemble.
As a tereré, Jesper Tradicional is delicious and surprisingly flavorful. The bitterness of this tereré will be envied by many Paraguayan yerbas, but it is balanced by the Argentine herbaceous sweetness and is not bothering at all. It is pleasantly spicy — not in a hot spicy way, but in aromatic, peppery, nutmeggy and cinnamony kind of way. The taste of this tereré also has some noticeable tobacco, that adds notes of earth and smoke to the flavor profile of Jesper Tradicional.
The aftertaste of Jesper Tradicional is even more tobaccoey than its taste! Tobacco aficionados will recognize Kentucky dark fired leaf which lends sweetness as well as smokiness and leatheriness to the finish of this mate. Jesper Tradicional will be particularly enjoyed by the fans of Toscano cigars, but for an unprepared palate this strong tobaccoey complexity may be a turn-off.
In the aftertaste of a tereré bitterness becomes even more pronounced and dominates the finish of Jesper Tradicional. In that sense, Jesper Tradicional makes a not so drinkable tereré — I always wanted to take longer pauses between sips to savor it and let the bitterness fade away before doing another refill.
No matter what water temperature I used, Jesper Tradicional was always a short mate — I was never able to get more than 15 refills out of it. It starts off strong and potent flavor-wise, making you think that you’re in for a long ride, just to abruptly become lavado with no evolution to speak of.
Combined with initial 5 weaker refills, tereré from Jesper Tradicional managed to reach up to 20 refills, putting itself into a moderate durability category. However, if you subtract those initial refills and only count ones that are flavorful, this tereré will become as short as the hot mate. Unlike the hot mate, though, tereré from Jesper Tradicional washed out gradually, and lavado was expected and quite delicious as a light slightly herbal drink.
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.
Apart from inherent effects of mental clarity, focus and numerous health benefits, I didn’t notice any energizing nor relaxing effects after drinking Jesper Tradicional. Morning mates were not stimulating enough to wake me up as quickly as coffee can, and evening mates were adequately neutral not to mess up my sleep.
The same goes for tereré from Jesper Tradicional — energy-wise it was always neutral no matter the time of day. However, as with any tereré you can expect refreshing and cooling effects that are especially welcomed during hot summer days.
Special thanks to Pampa Direct for providing Jesper Tradicional for this review!
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