There is nothing ordinary or conventional about Meta Mate 23, starting from a quite unusual name, and ending with a rare and unique cut and taste. I do not just respect it; I love it — this yerba mate is a great showcase of why it’s crucial for the yerba mate industry to experiment and sometimes to break away from mundane traditions. 23 is considered an auspicious number and is a code for those who believe there are no coincidences. Don’t just take my word for it — try it for yourself and see how deep this rabbit hole goes.
When I took a first whiff of Meta Mate 23, it instantly took me to a place where they like their yerba fresh — Brazil. It smells like any other Brazilian erva mate out there — freshly cut grass is the first thing that comes to my mind. I can also smell faint notes of something nutty or cocoa-like in the background, that gives me a hint of what will be coming up in the taste of this yerba mate. Besides that, the aroma of Meta Mate 23 is fairly bold and pronounced, compared to other ervas from Brazil.
Meta Mate 23 smells like Brazilian erva, but is cut like Argentine yerba mate. In Brazil they call this type of cut moída grossa, which translates as coarse cut from Portuguese. You can easily find coarse cut erva mate on a local Brazilian market, but to an international matero this cut may come as a surprise as the vast majority of exported erva mate comes in a very powdery form, which is used for preparation of chimarrão, and which is what most of the people usually associate with Brazilian erva mate.
The coarse cut of Meta Mate 23 is much less powdery than your typical erva mate and is a bit like a less balanced Argentine yerba mate — there is a decent amount of stems and powder while still present, is a bit underrepresented.
The cut is uneven but beautifully nonchalant — leaves range from tiny pieces to huge chunks, and stems vary from thin splinters to pretty thick logs.
Meta Mate 23 is harvested and dried by Barão De Cotegipe in their facilities. With the aid of a quality vacuum packaging, Meta Mate 23 presents itself very green and bright in color upon opening, which is achieved by a five to six hours in the air drying machine with 5 layers, that helps to preserve the chlorophyll in yerba mate leaves. It is not as neon green and matcha-like as some of the other Brazilian ervas, but that may be due to a fine cut of the latter that creates a more bright appearance. There are also a lot of inclusions of darker, almost brown toasted leaves, which I think comes as a result of a rapid exposure to flame that precedes the air drying step.
Hot mate from Meta Mate 23 is really easy to prepare. The coarse cut and small amount of dust pretty much guarantee that it won’t clog your bombilla. I personally like to use my slotted bombilla or spring bombilla for Meta Mate 23 purely because it’s fun to be able to sip grassy chimarrão-like mate out of these bombillas without clogging them.
When it comes to temperature, Meta Mate 23 proves to be very forgiving — I found that any temperature in range from 70°C to 85°C / 160°F to 185°F is fine for this mate, as long as you let it steep in the gourd for a few seconds after a refill. However, colder temperatures, even as close as 60°C to 65°C / 140°F to 150°F make Meta Mate 23 more bleak and do not allow it to unleash its full potential, which to me is surprising, considering that this yerba mate makes an absolutely great tereré.
Speaking of tereré — you can start sipping it straight away, when the majority of yerbas, even those that are designed specifically for tereré, require you to steep it a bit before drinking in order to extract any noticeable flavor. Apart from this paradoxical feature of Meta Mate 23, it is pretty much identical to any other tereré when it comes to preparation — all you need is some cold water and ice to keep it cool for the duration of drinking.
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 .
The nose of Meta Mate 23 hinted to me that this mate may offer much more than an average simple Brazilian erva mate. However, being a fan of a more aged yerbas and thinking that aging adds to complexity of yerba mate, I was not expecting much from Meta Mate 23 in terms of taste. Boy, was I wrong!
The grassiness is obviously on the forefront of this mate and is chlorophyllic and slightly sweet. What opens up next, is a beautiful symphony of nutty, milky and chocolatey notes that totally enchanted me and made me fall in love with Meta Mate 23 from the first sip. This bold complexity rose out of nowhere, hitting me wave after wave with delicious flavors as I drank it more and more.
Hazelnut and almond immediately pop up as soon as the initial grassiness fades away. The creamy mouthfeel ties it all together and gives Meta Mate 23 enough thickness for a solid medium body. After some more sips, nuttiness starts to feel more and more chocolatey, both as in a sweet milky chocolate and bitter dark chocolate, even raw cocoa powder.
Believe it or not, at a certain point I started to forget that I had a fresh unaged green yerba mate in my gourd! The array of flavors that opened up to me from a seemingly simple grassy yerba mate was nothing short of breathtaking and surprisingly harmonious.
When I prepared tereré from Meta Mate 23, it managed to surprise me again with new notes and nuances that I wasn’t picking up in hot mate form. This tereré is such a drastic change from bold and smoky Paraguayan yerba mates; it literally feels like a breeze of fresh air that is a must try if you want a completely unique tereré experience.
Obviously, freshness and grassiness is the dominant thing in the taste of Meta Mate 23, although I was surprised that it was so pronounced, considering that it was brewed using cold water. But it didn’t end there, on the contrary. As soon as my palate accustomed to a pleasantly overwhelming and sweet chlorophyllic taste, I also started to notice distinct nuttiness, which combined with aforementioned grassiness reminded me of a raw hazelnut.
Sinking deeper and deeper into this beautiful tereré experience offered by Meta Mate 23, I found even more complex nutty flavors, such as almond, cashew and coconut. The latter made this tereré satisfyingly milky and creamy, both in texture and flavor.
Even though I was completely absorbed in enjoyment of the taste of Meta Mate 23, at a certain point I had to take a break for a few minutes. The aftertaste of this mate not only persisted, but it seemed like it was becoming more and more pronounced. Grassiness returned and dominated the finish of Meta Mate 23, this time being more bold, and caramel sweet.
The aftertaste of tereré on the other hand was super light and nothing really to write home about, which in my opinion is preferable, since you probably want your tereré to be more drinkable than hot mate. Pondering some time after taking a sip of Meta Mate 23, I can still sense some leftover grassiness and chocolateness lingering in the back of my mouth, but other than that this is a very light tereré that allows you to increase your drinking cadence if you want to cool yourself down as soon as possible in the hot summer day.
This may sound disappointing to some, but Meta Mate 23 is a very short mate — I never managed to get past 15 refills while drinking it, most oftenly landing on a 13 or 14 refill mark. On the bright side, this mate does not require any warmup and starts to deliver its flavors and effects from the very first sip. When properly prepared, the flavors are distributed evenly across the whole duration of drinking up until lavado. Speaking of lavado, in the case of Meta Mate 23 it happened spontaneously and was not gradual at all, serving as a loud and clear finishing chord to this unique experience.
Same short durability is true for tereré as well — Meta Mate 23 lasts no more than 15 refills, meaning that it is more suited for short drinking sessions when you are pressed for time but still want to enjoy a quick 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.
Be careful if you are sensitive to caffeine — Meta Mate 23 is a super energizing mate! Even I, having a pretty strong caffeine tolerance, felt quite uncomfortable after having finished my mate session. I definitely noticed an increased heart rate, which felt like a caffeine crash, just as if I drank too much coffee. This, though, may be a result of being too much carried away by the flavors of Meta Mate 23 and drinking it too fast, which combined with a short durability of this mate meant that I consumed all of the contained caffeine in this yerba mate in a very short span of time. My advice then is to drink Meta Mate 23 at a slower cadence to avoid the negative effects of caffeine, and it may become your go-to morning pick-me-up mate.
As a tereré, Meta Mate 23 is very refreshing, as you would expect it, but also is quite mild, not letting me feel overwhelmed by its effects, as opposed to a hot mate. Cold water is much more gentle and slow when it comes to extracting nutrients and elements from Meta Mate 23, or makes them much more subdued, compared to hot water.
What are your thoughts on Meta Mate 23? Comment below!