Beneficialos de Manzanilla
Manzanillas are small trees native to the Andean region of South America. They grow up to 5 feet tall and have a light green or yellowish bark with white flowers on them.
There are over 100 species of these trees, but only two types (Vinca and Viscacha) are used in the production of tequila: Vinca and Viscacha.
The leaves of the Vinca tree are used to make tequila, while the leaves of the Viscacha tree are used to produce wine. Both types of plants produce different kinds of alcohol, but they both contain high levels of tannins which give them their distinctive flavor.
These plant’s taste is best when aged in oak barrels for at least three years before it can be consumed.
Vinca Tequilas – Aroma: Sweet, fruity, floral. Taste: Light bodied with a hint of sweetness.
Finish: Long, sweet and smooth.
Viscacha Tequilas – Aroma: Fruit forward with some citrus notes. Taste: Medium bodied with a milder fruitiness than Vinca.
Finish: Short, clean and crisp.
History of the Alcohol
The distillation process for tequilas was thought to have been started by the Aztecs over 1500 years ago. They were made by fermenting the juice of a fruit called cocoa beans, which is where the name “tequila” comes from.
The first distillery to make a white spirit with it wasn’t until in the 16th century when Spanish Conquistadors brought over copper stills from Europe.
In the 19th century, Don Cenobio Sauza founded Casa Sauza, which is now the oldest distillery in Mexico. He experimented with different ways of making tequilas and one of those experiments involve putting the alcohol into used whiskey barrels from the United States, which gave it a smoother taste.
This process is still used in making tequilas today.
How to Drink it
Tequila can be drank neat, on the rocks, or mixed with other drinks. Some of the most popular ones are:
The Margarita: Tequila with some Triple Sec and Lime Juice.
Tequila Daisy: Tequila with a little bit of lemon juice, grenadine and Coca-Cola.
Tequila Slammer: A combination of orange juice and tequila.
Tequila Zombie: Tequila with Falernum, Grenadine, Lemon and Lime Juice.
How it’s Made
Tequila is made primarily from the blue Weber Agave, which is a plant that grows in the region where tequila is made. The plants flower usually once every 6-8 years and when it does it releases a huge stalk of yellow flowers up to 6 feet long.
After a couple of years the stalk dies down and a bulbous knot begins to form where the stalk once was. It is at this point that it is harvested.
Most tequila is made from only the juvenile plants that are 6-8 years old, but there some distilleries that prefer to use older plants as they believe it gives the tequila a better flavor.
The entire plant is used in the process apart from the roots and the seeds. The bulb is chopped up and then cooked for a few hours before the sugars and starches break down.
It is then mashed and put through a mechanical press to get the juice out, which is then mixed with yeast and left to ferment for 2-3 days.
The fermented liquid is then poured into a wooden barrel where it is left to age until it reaches the desired taste. Different distilleries age their alcohol in different types of barrels.
Some of the most common are American White Oak, Canadian Oak and French Oak.
The aging process takes at least three months to get the desired taste, but most tequilas are aged for years, with some of more premium tequilas being aged for over five years. After this period it is bottled straight from the barrel as “Blanco” or aged for between one and three months in small oak barrels to give it some color, but not much flavor.
Tequila is the second most popular distilled spirit in the world (behind vodka) and is particularly popular in the United States, where it is considered to be a ‘western’ drink. Mexico exports over 250 million liters of the alcohol every year with around 70% of that being exported to the United States.
The largest consumer of Tequilas is the United States where people drink over 37 million liters per year. The second biggest consumer is Argentina, who drink over 12 million liters per year.
Tequila was first introduced to the United States in the late 19th century by the first immigrants to California. Many of the farmers couldn’t grow anything due to the California soil being unsuitable for most crops.
They tried various different types of crops until they found that Agave did well in the soil and climate. The farmers began to harvest and distill the Agave plant in order to create a more portable form of alcohol than the farming they were used to. Many of these original agave farmers became some of the first Mexican immigrants to America.
Tequila soon starts to become popular in America as Americans traveled through Mexico and were introduced to the drink by Mexicans. Soon it became a common drink amongst the working class people of the time, with the cost being cheap enough for them to afford.
It was during Prohibition that Tequila started to become really popular.
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