Mexico’s Liquid Ambassador
● When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Mexico in the early 16th century, they sampled a local drink called pulque, made from the fermented juice of the agave plant. Much like beer, pulque has a low alcohol content. It also contains vegetable proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, so it is used in many areas as a nutritional supplement.
Accustomed to having alcoholic beverages with their meals, the Spaniards soon began to distill agave juice into something stronger, called mescal. It, in turn, became the precursor of today’s tequila. Nowadays, there are dozens of tequila distillers in Mexico, and they produce over 50 million gallons a year (189 million L), 40 percent of which is exported.
Orchards of blue agave, a succulent related to the lily family, are cultivated in the arid highlands of west-central Mexico, principally in the state of Jalisco near the town of Tequila, after which the drink was named. * Agave plants take up to 12 years to mature, absorbing a lot of minerals in the process. When the plant is harvested, its spiky leaves are cut away, leaving the pineapple-shaped heart called piña. On average, it weighs 110 pounds (50 kg) and contains the rich juice. About 15 pounds (7 kg) of agave piñas are needed to produce one quart (1 L) of tequila.
Many Mexicans enjoy tequila straight, accompanied by salt and a slice of lime. Foreigners are more familiar with the margarita, a cocktail of tequila mixed with lime juice and an orange-flavored liqueur, served with crushed ice in a goblet rimmed with salt. * Marketed in some 90 countries, tequila has rightly been called Mexico’s ambassador abroad.
^ par. 4 Of the 136 species of agave in Mexico, several are used for pulque and other alcoholic beverages. But only the blue agave is used for tequila.
^ par. 5 The moderate consumption of alcohol is not condemned in the Bible. (Psalm 104:15; 1 Timothy 5:23) The Bible does, however, condemn immoderate drinking and drunkenness.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Titus 2:3.