Lately I have been thinking about what makes a good mate. Should it be complex, last long and have a powerful effect on your mind? Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá proves that good mate may not be exceptional or stand out in any particular way — the lack of complex variety of flavors it compensates with balanced taste and perfectly executed essentials which is enough to make you want more.
Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá has that typical fragrant aroma that is created by smoking yerba mate. Not too pungent but not too subtle, this method of drying opens up an interesting array of smells inherent to all barbacuá yerba mates — prunes, plums, dark chocolate and tobacco. Earthy and sweet nose of Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá waters up my mouth in anticipation of tasting this mate.
Barbacuá method of drying noticeably affects the look of this yerba mate. Usually, I talk about the composition of the cut in my reviews first, but the kaleidoscope of different shades of green and brown leaves simply distracts me with its beauty. As a fan of smoky yerba mates I can see that Sol y Lluvia did not hold themselves back while drying their yerba mate — I see a lot of almost black leaves and even some toasted stems.
Aged for 12 to 24 months, Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá has a typical Argentine cut that is characterized by the balance of leaves, stems and powder. I would say that this yerba mate is a little less dustier than your average Argentine con palo yerba, while the leaves and stems have a pretty standard and even medium grinding.
As you would expect from an Argentine yerba mate, there were no issues with preparing Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá as I drank through the whole bag of it. Less dustier con palo cut made preparation absolutely effortless no matter what bombilla I chose.
Temperature-wise, I find Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá to be a relatively forgiving yerba mate. 70°C to 80°C / 160°F to 175°F is a perfect range for it and will yield in a mate that offers all of its flavor and potency. Going lower than that in my opinion is pointless as it does become more tasteless and pretty much boring.
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 are a fan of smoky yerba mates then you’re in for a treat — Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá is simply delicious. Subtly smoky, smooth, naturally sweet with obvious notes of dark chocolate and tobacco, this mate feels just right and absolutely balanced. Medium body of Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá sometimes feels more like a full body when a sudden pleasant tartness coats the surface of the tongue, which is such a rare thing in Argentine yerba mates.
With zero acidity and bitterness whatsoever, Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá sadly does not offer a whole lot of flavor complexity. Sweetness is just sweetness, earthiness is just earthiness, and smoky chocolatey plummy notes do not evolve into anything more complex than that. Being quite excited by an interesting toasted-ish cut of this yerba mate I was expecting a broader array of flavors, like maybe brown sugar or maple syrup, or at least something grainy or malty, but I was not able to pick up any of those notes no matter how hard I tried.
Despite that I am still enjoying every sip of this mate — Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá does not offer a lot of different flavors, but the ones they do are nailed and balanced almost perfectly. Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá is another proof that a good mate does not always have to be complex.
Do not expect this mate to have a long-lasting and complex finish either — the only thing that lingers in the aftertaste of Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá is a slightly tart mouthfeel. However, it makes Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá very drinkable which is quite rare for a medium to full-bodied mate. In general, my drinking sessions have not lasted for too long — not because of the short durability, but because it was just hard to put away such a drinkable mate.
Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá was quite impressive in terms of durability — on average it took 20 to 25 refills to reach lavado, making it a very solid moderate, almost long mate. The washing out was gradual and started around the middle of the drinking, slowly shifting into a mate that was still quite pleasant and even kept some of the plummy taste.
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.
Is Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá going to energize and pick you up in the morning? The answer is no, and actually on the contrary it has more of a relaxing effect, even though it is not super pronounced and sedative. This mate suits better for the second half of the day, when you don’t need that extra sharpness and productivity and look for something that will help you wind down. Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá makes a nice evening mate that will not mess with your sleep.
Special thanks to Pampa Direct for providing Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá for this review!
What are your thoughts on Sol y Lluvia Barbacuá? Comment below!