Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Agave tequilana cv Limeno--Agavaceae

Tucked away between the office and the arid house at the UC Botanical Garden is this variegated form of the agave used to make tequila. The alcohol is handmade by people who have tended the plants for generations. They have to know when the sugar content has peaked; at that moment, the plant is removed from the ground and all the leaves are removed from the plant. The core that is left (which weighs about 100 pounds. The plant in the garden is a baby!) is shredded and fermented. The alcohol produced is then distilled and aged to create Tequila. The workers who tend the plants also have to know how to harvest the pups without damaging the plants. The pups are then replanted and grown for about 10 years to attain adequate size for harvest.

Ever wonder about the worm at the bottom of the bottle? That is a marketing scheme created in the 1940s to get people to drink more tequila. Men seem to need to get drunk to consume the worm. And they need to consume to worm to prove how big and strong they are. So worms lead to more tequila sales. Great trick, huh?

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