When I first looked at Romance Tradicional it did not grab my attention — a typical traditional Argentine yerba mate was not advertised to be organic, special selection or in any way premium. What I found inside the bag was an astonishingly underrated yerba mate that is on par with the more famous and acknowledged brands, that manages to keep up it’s complexity while simultaneously being very welcoming to beginners and forgiving preparation-wise.
Romance Tradicional has a very bold and fragrant nose for an Argentine yerba mate — very woodsy, cedary aroma coupled with strong and full notes of tobacco make it smell like a cigar box. Slightly sour but still sweet dry fruits, prunes and plums to be specific, and other inherently sweet things like marmalade and even a hint of bubble gum create a very pleasant nose that smells both complex and friendly. I feel like I can enjoy the nose alone for hours, which builds up excitement for tasting this mate.
Romance Tradicional has a fairly standard cut for Argentine yerba mate that is a mixture of leaves, stems and powder. I would not call it extremely balanced though — it feels a bit too heavy on the powder while both leaves and stems have a finer cut compared to most Argentine yerbas.
The color of Romance Tradicional is hard to call uniform — leaves range from pale white-ish green to lightly toasted brown, never really becoming saturated and deep. This can be explained by at least 1 year of aging and the standard drying method used by Romance for production of this yerba mate, which involves exposing it to a heat in special drying rooms.
I like dustier Argentine yerba mates like Romance Tradicional not only because they make a more full-flavored mate, but also because it’s super easy to prepare them traditionally. While for Uruguayan yerbas it’s true that dustier means harder to prepare, the more powdery Argentine yerba mates still mostly consist of a coarser cut leaves which doesn’t clog bombilla that much, while extra dust acts as a binding agent for molding the mountain of yerba, which becomes an easy process even with slotted bombilla.
Another pleasant thing about Romance Tradicional is that it can be enjoyed in a very wide range of temperatures. Starting at 60°C / 140°F expect to pick up more subtle flavors, lighter body and shorter durability. But the more you go up, the more pleasantly bitter, fuller and longer it becomes. Absolutely fine at 70°C / 160°F , I find that Romance Tradicional absolutely shines at a more hot temperature, around 80°C / 175°F .
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 .
If you’re not afraid to go that high temperature-wise, you will find in Romance Tradicional an extremely delicious mate with a very solid medium to full body. Perfectly balanced sweetness and bitterness, pleasantly tobaccoey and herbal, this mate unravels more and more with each sip. It is a tad smoky, which is surprising to me since I wasn’t able to pick it up in the nose of this yerba mate, but combined with a silky smooth and oily mouthfeel it tastes simply delightful. I can also pick up subtle spicy notes, some vanilla and nutmeg and just a ghost of something bright and fruity in the background.
After being partially washed and turned, Romance Tradicional regains in boldness but never really becomes too earthy. At its strongest, this mate is quite astringent and has some properties of both black and green tea, especially reminding me of a genmaicha tea. I can also pick up notes of roasted sunflower seeds, which combined with the inherent sweetness of this mate makes it taste like sunflower halva which is very unique if you had one. Overall, I am really amazed with the complexity that hides behind such a newbie-friendly tasting mate.
Subtle flavor notes of Romance Tradicional fade away as quickly and unexpectedly as they arise, and what I’m left with is a bitter-sweet (in a good way) aftertaste that is neither too bland, nor too clingy. This mate lets you choose your own drinking pace, even though there is not much that you can ponder in its finish. Rounded, balanced and perfectly logical — the aftertaste of Romance Tradicional serves as a nice rest, setting the rhythm for your own cadence.
When it comes to durability, Romance Tradicional lands at solid 20 to 25 refills which makes it a moderate mate. Flavors were washed out gracefully and lavado was still sweet and perfectly drinkable for a few refills, somewhat akin to a white tea.
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 spout.
The first few sips of Romance Tradicional invigorated me and suggested that this mate will be very energizing and potent, but the more I kept drinking it, the more neutral it became. It was not enough to help me with morning grogginess, but it also did not mess up my sleep when enjoyed in the evening, making it a safe all-day mate.
What are your thoughts on Romance Tradicional? Comment below!