According to the Distilled Spirits Council, tequila has grown by 140 percent in the U.S. since 2002. In fact, it sold over 17 million cases in 2017 alone.
Although the history of tequila can be traced back to the Aztecs, the spirit they were drinking was pulque. It is a drink made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. Modern tequila was born in the mid-1700s after the Spanish started to distill mezcal in the 1500s.
Of course, tequila can make us do some crazy things. Tequila can mean different things to different people. But one thing is for sure, it’s a spirit that’s easily enjoyed in many situations.
For starters, tequila is made from blue agave (not cactus). The law states that tequila must only be made in the area surrounding the city of Tequila.
Iliana Partida, a second-generation tequila producer, said that there are a total of 181 counties in five states of Mexico, including the whole state of Jalisco, 30 counties in Michoacán, eleven in Tamaulipas, eight in Nayarit and seven in Guanajuato states.
“Both agave farming and actual tequila production have to be done within these counties,” Partida says.
Because there are a lot of counties producing agaves, a lot of factors can affect the crop. It includes altitude, climate, water, local microbiology, fermentation base, and distillation process.
Moreover, the highlands produce sweeter and more fruity flavors, while the lowlands produce a more earthy, herbal flavor.
Another thing to take into consideration is the maturity of the actual agave. When the agave is more mature, the more it produces a sweeter must and flavor.
When it comes to tequila, terminology matters.
Blanco – This is tequila in its purest form. Blanco is the un-aged tequila that is bottled shortly after distillation. Sometimes, producers keep them in stainless steel tanks for a few weeks before bottling. Blanco is clear and is generally used in Margaritas and other light, citrusy drinks.
Reposado – This tequila is aged for between 60 and 364 days. As long as it is less than a year, we call it Reposado. It mellows as it ages and adds notes of oak and vanilla to the agave palate. It is better used in heavier cocktails, although it will perform very well in a Margarita as well
Añejo – This refers to tequila that has been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year but less than three years. For the flavor, Añejo has strong notes of caramel, oak, and toffee that still allow the sweet, peppery agave that is the backbone of tequila to shine through. Because of its distinct flavor, it is often employed as a whiskey substitute in drinks like Tequila Old Fashioned or Tequila Manhattan.
Benefits of tequila
Given its reputation, most of us know tequila as a drink. But, did you know tequila is good for you? While tequila is definitely not a “superfood”, there are several surprising health benefits of drinking tequila in moderation:
1. Drinking tequila is good for your bones
According to research, the blue variety of the Agave tequilana has substances capable of improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium. These two minerals are essential in maintaining bone health.
“The consumption of fructans contained in the agave, in collaboration with adequate intestinal micriobiota, promotes the formation of new bone, even with the presence of osteoporosis,” says Dr. Mercedes López, the leader of the project.
2. Tequila benefits diabetic people
This study shows that tequila plant could make a possible sweetener for diabetics.
“We have found that since agavins reduce glucose levels and increase GLP-1, they also increase the amount of insulin,” said Mercedes G. López, Ph.D.
Additionally, agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those who are allergic to them. Just like other fructans, which are made of the sugar fructose, they are the best sugars to help support the growth of healthful microbes in the mouth and intestines.
3. Drinking a controlled amount of tequila can help you lose weight
According to this 2014 study, tequila helps obese people lose weight by lowering blood glucose levels. Because of this, it can make you feel fuller longer, so you’re less likely to overeat.
4. Drinking tequila lowers the risk of dementia in later life
According to this research, moderate drinkers of alcohol (including tequila) have a lower incidence of dementia later in life. The researchers also found that the risk of dementia was higher in those abstaining from alcohol in midlife.
5. Tequila is prebiotic
This study states that tequila sets the stage for the good bacteria. Prebiotics create a living space for good bacteria because it makes the intestines a more friendly environment for healthy bacteria to thrive in.
Many therapeutic properties have been attributed to tequila plant. It is used in the control of diseases such as dyspepsia, stomach pain, diarrhea, anemia, anorexia, and several infections. Moreover, archeological evidence revealed that it has been used since pre-Hispanic times as an enema.
The reported effects are associated with Agave saponins, which are sterols with hypocholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic activity.
6. Tequila doesn’t give you hangovers
According to this article, the LA wellness crowd are now saying that tequila is the healthiest alcohol.
Tequila is vegan, gluten-free and doesn’t give you a hangover. That is if you drink the Blanco tequila.
According to this study, the regular mixed tequilas are largely made up of corn syrup and contain chemicals like congeners. These congeners increase hangover severity making people feeling worse after drinking bourbon whiskey than vodka.
So, you can avoid the world’s worst headache by sticking to the Mexican good stuff. Just make sure to show a little self-restraint. As long as you stay hydrated and don’t drink a whole bottle, then you’re fine.
No alcohol is healthy, but if you’re inclined to have a drink once in a while, tequila might not be such a bad choice. Cheers!
Indeed, this Mexican beverage can do some awesome stuff that we are all surprised about. So, grab that bottle and with moderation, say “hola!” to tequila.
Because we’ve got some scientific reasons to say salud!