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A great improvement in pretty much all the areas over the regular Pajarito Tradicional, this yerba is everything you would want from a Paraguayan mate and more. It is not simply OK with hot water, as some yerbas from this country, it actually makes a wonderfully delicious hot mate, in addition to the complex and beautifully bitter tereré. If you don’t care about cold brewed mate and thus avoid Paraguayan yerbas, think twice — Pajarito Selección Especial can and will pleasantly surprise you.
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The aroma of Pajarito Selección Especial is absolutely breathtaking.
Strong, but not pungent; complex, but not overwhelming; very familiar, yet distinctly unique.
It has the smell of the Paraguayan yerba mate, but at the same time it feels like Pajarito Selección Especial builds upon that, adding notes that are usually found in Argentine and Uruguayan yerbas.
I get a lot of woodsy notes — oak, cedar, pine sawdust, cigar box — but also a lot of spice — cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, touch of anise and licorice.
Overall slightly smoky, as it expected from Paraguayan yerba mate, Pajarito Selección Especial goes further with dry fruity and raisin notes as well as some floral notes of jasmine and lilac.
Pajarito Selección Especial has a very typical Paraguayan yerba mate cut, with leaves, stems and a healthy amount of powder.
Leaves vary in size from small to moderate without being too chunky; the same can be said about the stems that range from tiny chips and splinters to averagely sized and round pieces.
The color of Pajarito Selección Especial is pretty vibrant for a Paraguayan yerba mate, especially considering that is has been aged for an impressive 2 years, according to the package.
Besides the various shades of green, I see a lot of darker brown and also almost black leaves, which is, again, expected — Paraguay is known for its special approach to drying yerba mate with lots of fire and smoke that results in an unevenly colored and quite toasted (although not completely a tostada) cut.
Hot mate from Pajarito Selección Especial is pretty easy to prepare, despite its fairly dusty cut.
spoon bombilla with good filtering is still preferred, although I had no troubles using my
slotted bombilla as well.
On the packaging, manufacturer suggests not using hot water that is more than
80°C/175°F, which I can agree with.
Not only does the water that is hotter than
80°C/175°F can be dangerous for your mouth, in case of Pajarito Selección Especial it makes a super bitter and bold mate, though I have to admit that it was not unbearably strong and still enjoyable to me.
For the hot mate I would suggest sticking with a standard
70°C-75°C/160°F-165°F water, as it yields in the most balanced taste and longest durability.
Surprisingly to me,
60°Cto65°C/140°Fto150°F water made a pretty bleak and tasteless mate which made me doubt that this Paraguayan yerba is at all suited for tereré.
To add to my doubts, I had not found any mentions of tereré preparation on the bag of Pajarito Selección Especial.
The preparation guide on the back of the package only mentioned hot mate, but since it is a Paraguayan yerba, I still decided to make a tereré out of it.
First few sips shattered my doubts — I am happy to say that Pajarito Selección Especial makes an amazing tereré!
All you need is some cold water and ice, if you want to enjoy the pristine yerba mate flavor, or you can add herbs and juices to enliven your tereré sessions.
After taken a sip of hot Pajarito Selección Especial it instantly reminded me of its brother — Pajarito Tradicional.
It is still very much Paraguayan — moderately strong, pleasantly bitter, woodsy and spicy.
However, the more sips I took, the more interesting this mate was becoming.
Despite the ever slightly smoky nose, Pajarito Selección Especial starts of with a really smoky taste, but with a solid sweetness underneath — think of those commercial barbecue sauces and smoky prunes.
That initial smokiness quickly becomes a second nature, and I started to taste a surprisingly well-balanced mate.
Usually Paraguayan yerbas are not designed for water that is hotter than
60°C/140°F, but here I have a really hard time finding something to complain about.
I get cigar and pipe tobacco, some meaty and brothysalty notes, dark roasted hazelnuts, pistachio and black tea.
Pajarito Selección Especial has a more complex taste than Pajarito Tradicional, even though not all the notes transferred to the taste of this mate.
It is a great example of how an inherent and strong bitterness and medium, leaning to a full body, can be balanced out by sweetness, umaminess and saltiness developed through extended aging to take those flavor notes to the whole new level and make a much tastier mate without changing much to the initial formula of harvesting and processing.
Tereré from Pajarito Selección Especial, as I mentioned earlier, is absolutely astonishing and delicious.
Unlike most of the yerbas suited for tereré, this mate does not require any warm-up — first few sips are the most bitter and potent.
Excessive bitterness goes away after a few refills, and you’re left with flavorful and balanced cold drink.
In the taste of tereré I don’t notice any smokiness as I did with hot mate.
The flavors of Pajarito Selección Especial here are less brown and more green — I get different degrees of herbal and hay-like notes, beans, avocado.
I also get nutty tones, but here in tereré they are more raw and green as well, compared to the hot mate.
Purple and whitefloral notes from the nose of Pajarito Selección Especial transfer beautifully to the taste of the tereré — I get rose, jasmine, lilac and lavender.
Such a treat!
Almost all the flavors are gone in the aftertaste of the hot Pajarito Selección Especial, leaving us with a simple yet clean finish.
Bitterness is still here, but it is accompanied by the louder note of green raw pistachio.
The aftertaste is not that long though, making Pajarito Selección Especial a very drinkable hot mate.
Pretty much the same can be said about the finish of this tereré.
On one hand it is somewhat disappointing that the complex and interesting flavors of Pajarito Selección Especial disappear too quickly, but on the other — this tereré is one of the few that can actually let you enjoy its rich taste, but still be super drinkable which in my opinion is a must-have quality for a cold and refreshing summer drink.
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On average, I was able to get 20 to 23 refills from Pajarito Selección Especial, making it a solid and exemplary moderate mate.
In that regard, Pajarito Selección Especial a definite improvement over Pajarito Tradicional which was quite short, and if you prefer longer mates the choice between these two is quite obvious.
I also really enjoyed the evolution of this mate — the first and the last sips are completely different, shifting from a strong and smoky to a milder, milkier and smoother drink.
Speaking of the last refill — lavado here was very gradual and delicious, treating me with a light sweet and herbal beverage that is completely free of the initial smokiness and woodsy notes.
The durability of tereré from Pajarito Selección Especial is about the same — I was able to get from 18 up to 20 refills, which also falls into a moderate category.
The similar evolution of flavors happens throughout duration of drinking this tereré, taking me from bolder and bitter to milder and sweeter notes as I slowly but surely reach lavado.
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
Unlike its brother, which had a calming and relaxing effect on me, Pajarito Selección Especial is a turn in the opposite direction.
Both hot mate and cold tereré were reasonably energizing without going over the top.
Pajarito Selección Especial offers a noticeable invigoration and enhances focus and concentration, but also is not so energizing that it makes you run in circles.
I never regretted evening sessions with this mate, as it was completely neutral to my sleep and never caffeinated me to the point of not being able to go to bed.
And tereré, as expected, offered a very much needed chill in scorching and hot days of this summer.
What are your thoughts on Pajarito Selección Especial? 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
A roasted or toasted yerba mate.
Popular in Brazil, the process of roasting is very similar to coffee (also one of the Brazilian signature beverages).
Roasting is done to add chocolate and nutty notes to yerba mate, as well as enhance its energizing effect.
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
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.