In Pajarito Tradicional you’ll find a yerba mate that despite being bold and strong, as you would expect from Paraguayan yerba, is not afraid of hot water, and is versatile in that sense. Do not judge this book by its cover — despite the dull smell this mate packs some nice flavors both in cold and hot versions. Or should I say booklet, keeping in mind how short lasted this mate?
Pajarito Tradicional pretty much smells like nothing — the nose is so unpronounced that it is hard to pick up any notes at all. Only slight sweetness comes through a very mellow aroma of wood and hay. To my surprise, I cannot sense any smokiness, despite the fact that this yerba mate was dried using barbacuá method. Lack of other smells leaves me disappointed with the nose of Pajarito Tradicional, making it not just bland and forgettable, but almost non-existent.
This yerba mate has a typical Paraguayan cut, that looks like a hybrid between Argentine and Uruguayan. Decent quantity of medium-sized stems complements a large amount of powder and leaves that are ground very unevenly, varying from a coarse chunks to almost dust-like fine particles. The color of leaves also lacks in uniformity, ranging from occasional dark green to light gray, which makes the cut of Pajarito Tradicional mostly light-colored and unsaturated. Similarly to La Merced Barbacua, I stumbled upon some seeds in the cut of this yerba mate, that added to overall impression of the cut of Pajarito Tradicional as a bit shaggy and crude.
Making tereré from Pajarito Tradicional is a trivial task, as you would expect from majority of Paraguayan yerba mates — as long as you have some iced water you’re good to go. One thing that I want to recommend is to “steep” Pajarito Tradicional a bit in a cold water after a refill in order to let it bloom and unshackle the flavors that are hidden in this tereré.
Preparing hot Pajarito Tradicional is not difficult either, but I was surprised to learn that this mate tastes better in more hot water than usual. Because Paraguayan yerba mates are commonly designed for tereré, their flavors in hot water are usually too strong, bitter, unbalanced and overwhelming, especially for the unprepared palate. Good examples of this are Selecta Tradicional and Kurupí Clásica, that I recommend to drink at around 60°C / 140°F max if you want some hot mate. However, Pajarito Tradicional likes temperature extremes — either very cold or very hot water makes this mate shine, otherwise resulting in a pretty bleak, simple and mellow brew. Start at least at 70°C / 160°F and be not afraid to pump it up to 80°C / 175°F and maybe even higher to experience the best that this mate has to offer.
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 laser thermometer or a food thermometer .
I was a bit sceptical about Pajarito Tradicional after it failed to impress me with its aroma, but after I filled it with ice-cold water it showed me why Pajarito is one of the most popular yerba mate brands in Paraguay. Strong, slightly smoky and bold taste with notes of tobacco, oak and some nuttiness makes me wonder if it is the same mate that I smelled earlier. Pajarito Tradicional makes a light to medium-bodied tereré that has some spiciness to it — if you are the fan of spirits infused with botanicals, like gin or vermouth, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Slightly peppery with a hint of cardamom and bay leaf — spice rack vibe certainly suits this tereré.
Hot water reveals some bright, woodsy and peppery notes of Pajarito Tradicional. The bitterness is present, but it is not unpleasant by any means and not as strong as I expected it to be. This mate keeps strong emphasis on the oaky and spicy notes — Pajarito Tradicional tastes very similar both as hot mate and tereré. This mate loves hot water while keeping its identity — it still tastes like Paraguayan mate. Pajarito Tradicional may not become an everyday mate, but it is very much enjoyable and holds its own against other yerba mates that are suited for hot water.
One of the most prominent features of Paraguayan yerba mate is a sourness, and Pajarito Tradicional is no exclusion. Being not a big fan of that sourness myself, I’m happy to say that in this tereré sourness is not over the top and actually helps to round up the flavors a bit in the aftertaste. Overall, the finish of this tereré is as strong as the taste (if not stronger), long and pronounced, with some tobacco notes and slight sweetness that is really welcomed here.
When it comes to hot mate it is a different story — sweet and even more spicy finish of Pajarito Tradicional is short and offers a little to ponder on. In that sense it is a very drinkable hot mate, that doesn’t require long pauses between refills. Despite being relatively short, the finish of hot Pajarito Tradicional leaves a pleasant whiskey-like aftertaste in the mouth, similarly to Kurupí Clásica, that will be very enjoyable if you appreciate a fine scotch.
Unfortunately, as soon as Pajarito Tradicional starts to become interesting, it quickly disappears in the cold water — this tereré holds up to 15 refills before becoming lavado, which by itself is pretty boring and very similar to the nose of this yerba mate — simple, slightly woody and grassy.
In hot water Pajarito Tradicional performs a bit better, but do not expect sudden miracles — duration is still short, sometimes reaching 20 refills, but more oftenly averaging at 15.
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.
Tereré from Pajarito Tradicional is rather refreshing but not so much energizing. It would be great for people with high sensitivity to caffeine and is perfect for short refreshing sessions during hot and stifling evenings.
As with tereré version of Pajarito Tradicional, hot mate doesn’t give you any noticeable energizing effects. Instead, it did a great job as calming and relaxing mate. Again, it makes a good quick evening sessions mate that will help to wind down and rest.
What are your thoughts on Pajarito Tradicional? Comment below!