Meta Mate — 3.60 of 5 palos — reviewed 7/16/2012
Type: Traditional, con palos. February 2012 Harvest.
Reviewed with: Ceramic Gourd
This Brazilian yerba (aka erva mate) is smoked with mate wood, showing a strong smoky and charcoal character. I feel like I’m at a campfire smoking an oily maduro cigar while sipping an espresso—bold!
An interesting combination of a smoky, un-aged, Brazilian yerba with an Argentine cut. Malty and metallic swirls, leaving my palate tasting like lead. Some similarities with DelC and MF’s Gaucho richness. There are some pleasant dark chocolate notes that are appealing (these tastes become more attractive as you adjust to this yerba).
This yerba, having what I’ll call a “smoke barrier,” can be overwhelming and aggressive, leaving my palate wishing for some sweetness to balance it out; the result is a bold presentation of very strong smoky profiles, then phasing into nice dark chocolate scores, then experiencing a sharp, resounding metallic taste that’s partially awkward and burnt tasting—definitely acquired.
Cut 3.65 palos
Argentine Cut. Beautiful Army camouflage composition, with varying degrees of green. Some long hard monster palos. Low polvo count, making this more of a clean cut (e.g., Eco Teas, Aviva) than Argentine cut. I think the mate would fare better if it were more of a traditional gaucho cut, as Canarias or Del Cebador, with the addition of more polvo and slightly finer cut leaves, and longer aging period to smooth out the rough edges (and, of course, less smoke).
This cut doesn’t seem to want to take a firm stance: it has some polvo, but not enough to be a Gaucho; it’s grown in Brazil, but lacks the maltiness depth (perhaps being obscured by the smoky presence); the leaf size is somewhere between a Amanda’s broad-cut leaves and Canarias’ fine Gaucho-cut leaves.
Body/Texture/Taste 3.40 palos
Full bodied. Strong smoky presence. Metal notes. Good cacao and dark chocolate notes, helping to harmonize the smoke. Awkward interplay between smoke, lead, and grassy notes. Charcoal. Bonfire.
Nose 3.40 palos
Smoky. Metallic. Some grassy and floral notes. Soft spoken nose; nothing that screams out at you.
Finish 3.85 palos
As this yerba becomes lavado, the taste becomes more pleasant and smooth. It’s a great yerba to experience the unfolding and green-teaing displays of more subtle and refined notes. No harsh astringency. Excellent milk chocolate finish after first several cycles. This yerba’s potential is seen here, in the lavado stage.
Cycle 3.80 palos
Good long cycle. The heavy smoky and metallic opening of this yerba has a strong psychological impact on extending its cycle: you almost beg for the initial boldness to wear down, and when it does, your palate is more open to accepting anything weaker and smoother.
Overall: 3.60 palos
This mate from the Brazilian Primeval Forest is different, I’ll give it that. And for variety and wanting of surprise to your palate, it’s a good yerba to get your hands on and try out—who knows, you may really love the smoky, metallic flavor—but for me, this mate is too much of a bonfire explosion in my mouth, lacking depth, roundness, and versatility. Too many right angles.
Through their Project Mate Bar cafe in Miami, Jonathan and Daniele, the exclusive US distributors of this yerba, are doing great work spreading the holy herb. This “Coarse Cut” variety isn’t their only option; with their Gaucho, berries & ginger, and mint & lemon grass flavors, you have plenty of expressions to try out if this, rather smoky version, isn’t your preference.