Texas is the third-largest market for tequila in America. The tequila – Blue Agave flourishes in volcanic soil in Guadalajara. The state of Jalisco, Mexico is the birthplace of Tequila. The volcanic soil surrounding Jalisco is perfectly suited for growing blue agave plants, some say cactus. Over 300 million agave plants are harvested in Jalisco for tequila each year.
Agave nectar and tequila is made from the sap from hearts (piñas) of the plant. Although the agave shares a common habitat with different cactus it has a different life cycle and is not a species of cacti. A mature agave has leaves 5-8 feet tall. It has a lifespan of 10 -15 years, depending on agave species, growing conditions and climate.
Harvesting the agave is pretty simple. The leaves are removed from the agave base. The base is then taken to a facility where it is heated in a giant pressure cooker which gets the juices flowing. This heating breaks down the complex starches of the agave into simple sugars. What is left of the baked piñas, agave base, can be used as compost or animal feed.
The extracted agave juice is then poured into either large wood or stainless steel vats for several days to ferment, resulting in a low alcohol content. It is then distilled once to produce what is called “ordinario,” and then a second time to produce clear silver tequila.
There are many species of agave in Mexico, of which the blue agave - Agave tequilana weber azul - is the only one allowed for use in tequila production. Blue agave is considered to be the finest agave in the world.
The workers regularly trim the flowering stalks that grown in the center. This trimming prevents the agave from dying early and allows it to fully ripen at the base. The jimadores, harvesters, must be able to tell when each plant is ready to be harvested, and using a special knife, they carefully cut away the leaves from the piña (the succulent core of the plant).
If harvested too late or too early, the piñas, will not have the right amount of carbohydrates for fermentation.
Grown and nourished for 10 – 12 years in the red volcanic soils of Jalisco, Weber Blue Agave is harvested only at the peak of maturity to ensure sweet perfection.
Mexico has claimed the exclusive international right to the word “tequila“, threatening legal actions against manufacturers of distilled blue agave spirits in other countries.
Although some tequilas have remained as family owned brands, most well-known tequila brands are owned by large multinational corporations. Due to this, each bottle of tequila contains a serial number (NOM) depicting in which distillery the tequila was produced.
The NOM (Norma Oficial Mexicana) governs all processes and activities related to the supply of agave, production, bottling, marketing, information and business practices linked to the alcoholic beverage known as Tequila.
Tequila with a worm in the bottle is from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.
The worm is actually a larval from the agave plant and it indicates an infestation and a product of lower quality.
The top 3 – Best Tequilas in the World are:
1. Casa Noble 100% Blue Agave Ultra Premium Tequila – is hard to get.
2. Don Eduardo Anejo or blanco Tequila
3. Patron silver Tequila – pricey but worth the quality
In Mexico, the most traditional way to drink tequila is straight without a lime or salt. A large variety of drinks involve tequila. The most famous is the margarita, a cocktail that made tequila famous in the United States.
Here is the best Pomegranate Margarita Recipe:
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, store bought is fine
- 1/3 cup Tequila (about 4 ounces)
- 1/8 cup Triple Sec (about 1-ounce)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 ounces)
- 12 ounces ice cubes
- Margarita salt, optional
Combine all ingredients, except salt, in a blender and pulse until frothy and well combined. Rim glasses with lime juice using a lime wedge then dip in margarita salt, drop some fresh pomegranate seeds in the bottom of the glass and pour margarita mix over the top.