Origin: Ilópolis, RS (Rio Grande do Sol)
Producer: Ximango IND. De Erva-Mate LTD.
Cut: Chimarrão – Native Brazil
Cheema Who? Pronouncing the word for native grown Brazilian yerba mate is almost as challenging as working your way through a clogged bombilla. “Chimarrão”, pronounced shim-a-HOUE, essentially means pure yerba mate, or in Portuguese, “erva mate” (pronounced erva-MAHTCH). Along with native Brazilian erva mate, keep in mind that Uruguay outsources all of their growing to Brazil, blurring the lines between what’s considered Uruguayan and Brazilian mate. I call the former, “Gaucho Mate.”
Uruguayan mate grown in Brazil, such as Canarias, Del Cebador, Sara and others, aren’t considered erva mate, but closer to traditional yerba mate, albeit finer than classical Argentine mate i.e., Mission, Cruz de Malta.
Ximango, a true native Brazil erva, was not only grown in Brazil, but grown specifically for the native population of mate enthusiasts, primarily concentrated in the three southernmost states of the country. Conversely, most of the “yerba mate” (read: Gaucho Mate) grown in Brazil, being significantly less powdery and allowed to age for the typical period of several months, is grown for export to neighboring Uruguay.
Ximango Special Reserve is certainly an erva mate—one of the most popular, in fact. Starting with the bouquet, this near-neon-green mate wafts of malted Ovaltine, toasted Raisin Bran with gooey raisins, oatmeal, cinnamon, and the homely aroma of pancake batter just placed on a butter-simmering skillet. If any mate reminds me of the incipient hours, strolling into a deli or panadería (bakery) as the breakfast slowly starts to leaven, it’s Ximango. Super doughy. Reminiscent of those faint sweet pockets of early autumn air as the leaves begin to turn and later decompose into the soil.
A bit more difficult to prepare than traditional yerba mate from Argentina, this powdery rendition is worth the trouble getting it right, even if twice as much patience is required! Deftly positioning the spoon bombilla in the perfect niche below the yerba. You’ll know when you find it. Your first few sips may be chalky in texture, with small particles of mate coming through, but that only enriches the experience of drinking mate from Rio Grande do Sol, Southern Brazil.
Many chimarrão purists will advise using a special mate gourd called a cuia (pronounced qwee-AH) and bombilla known as a bomba (bomb-BAH) — both extravagantly large and sometimes emblazoned with pearls and intricate metalwork, compared to typical gourds and bombillas in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. But you’re not limited to those, which are certainly fine if you have them. Any spoon bombilla and gourd shall do. Water in the 170ºF / 76ºC range, conducive to appreciating the wispy floral notes easily masked with overly-heated water, is recommended.
As powdery as this erva is, it’s a light body. Malty, nutty, creamy, smooth, and green. It’s like a hot green milkshake. Silky mouthfeel as the richness blends with the subtle floral essence. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with chewy almond nougat profiles are detected with time. Mineral rich, offering generous amounts of foams (saponins).
No intense explosions of energy here. I find most erva mates quite calming and soothing. This may be due to the plant grown in partial or full shade environments. Ximango states that this variety comes from trees that grow upwards of 100 years, signifying a maturity and refinement in taste and character in this simple cut of minimal twigs, low leaves, and high powder.
The spirit of green energy is strong in Ximango. Within a short time of harvesting, it’s vacuum sealed and ready for your gourd. What’s lost in complexity from the lack of aging, is made up for in a light, easy-on-the-palate, richly green experience—the Native Brazilian, chimarrão experience, that is.
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Bom dia! (Good day!)