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Wild, feral and even barbarous — this mate feels like it belongs to the nature and countryside, far away from the safe city. Barbacua method of drying contributes to the strong smoky array of flavors, taking your mind to a wilderness, where life feels way more exciting. If you ever enjoyed sitting in front of the campfire in the middle of the forest you will love this mate, but new drinkers beware — La Merced Barbacuá may be too much for unprepared palate.
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La Merced Barbacuá has very bright and striking nose — very strong aroma of dried plums, fragrant wood and a touch of smoke. The smell is sweet with noticeable notes of dry fruits that remind me of Taragüi Sin Palo. It is also, believe it or not, a bit salty smell, that makes nose of La Merced Barbacuá pretty unique and interesting.
This yerba mate gives us something to talk about when it comes to the cut — it is an unbalancedcon palo yerba mate that is very low on powder. Stems are not too big and not too small. Leaves have an even grind and color, with relatively more brown and burnt ones — as it is obvious from the name of this yerba mate, it is produced using the barbacuá method of drying. This method should give yerba mate more bold and rich taste profile and distinctive smokiness, that is present in both smell and flavor.
Other interesting thing that I noticed about the cut of La Merced Barbacuá is unusually high amount of seeds — maybe it is somehow related to the season when this yerba was harvested. I haven’t had yerba mate with so many seeds before, so it is hard for me to point out how they affect the taste and durability. It would be interesting to compare it with other yerba mate that has seeds in its cut to find any distinctive similarities between them — if you had such yerba mate, please share it in the comments!
As I mentioned earlier, La Merced Barbacuá has a relatively low amount of powder, which makes preparation of this mate a bit harder compared to other con palo brands.
Low powder content makes it more loose in the gourd, which presents more work for the cebador to maintain the mountain of yerba, again, reminding me Taragüi Sin Palo that also behaved the same way.
Spoon bombilla or
bomba will be more efficient than
spring bombilla in this case, but other than that preparation of La Merced Barbacuá should be pretty effortless — the grind is coarse enough for any clogging issues to occur, no matter what bombilla you use.
As for the temperature, manufacturer recommends to use
70°C-80°C/160°F-175°F water, which I find to be good, although a bit colder water — down to
60°C/140°F — is also fine.
Bold, earthy and smoky — La Merced Barbacuá fully justifies its name. The taste of this mate nicely matches the nose, so you can expect the same fragrant flavors — wood, slight sweetness and even a bit of that saltiness that I pointed out earlier. It is definitely not a mate for beginners — if this is your first mate all you would taste is smoke and bitterness, which are not subtle and will be overpowering for anyone but seasoned materos. Even when you get past the smokiness, you will find a wild untamed medium to full-bodied mate that will throw strong earthy flavors at you — think soil, clay and leather.
It’s hard to expect mild and short finish from such a strong mate — the aftertaste of La Merced Barbacuá is long, bitter and tobaccoey. In a sense it is not very “drinkable” mate, as I was taking long pauses between sips to let the finish to wear off and prepare my mouth for next few bitter gulps of La Merced Barbacuá.
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This mate has a non-surprising moderate durability — it was very consistent every time, on average yielding in 20 to 25 refills, which is not as impressive as La Merced De Campo, but on par with most of Argentine yerba mate brands. It washes out gradually without abrupt drops, slowly becoming less strong and bitter, and more mild and sweet. Lavado is nice and pleasant, leaving a good overall impression on La Merced Barbacuá after completing the session.
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
The energizing effect that La Merced Barbacuá had on me every time I was drinking it was as strong as the flavors of this mate. I would definitely not recommend to drink it in the evening — La Merced Barbacuá is certainly an invigorating morning mate that should wake you up no matter how sleepy you are.
What are your thoughts on La Merced Barbacuá? 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
The oldest method of drying yerba mate, first used by Guarani indians hundreds of years ago. During the barbacuá process, the leaves are exposed to the heat of a wood fire for a long period of time (around 12-24 hours), which gives the final product distinctive smoky flavor.
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
A vessel used for drinking mate traditionally. Usually it is made from a real dried calabash gourd, or calabaza in Spanish, hence the name. Today the term gourd is used not only to describe a calabash vessel, but any other cup from which mate is being drank (wooden, metal, ceramic, etc.)
From Spanish verb cebar — prime or make. Cebador is the person who prepares the mate. When people gather in circle to drink mate, cebador is the one who prepares mate, hands it to one of the person in group, receives mate back, refills it and hands it to another person.
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.
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.