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Casa Maestri's Tequila Basics Vol. III: "Jima, the Nahuatl word for shaving"

The blue Weber tequila plant grows in a sacred land with history and is taken care of with great delicacy. Under the rays of the sun, the drops of fresh water and the shadow of the clouds, the sky does its part for the formation of a good agave. For its part, the earth, minerals and the subsoil full of nutrients also fill it with unique characteristics and flavors. This process is repeated many times, specifically for a minimum of four years.


After this time, it is time to harvest. As you may know, tequila and many other products of agave have grown in popularity in the recent years. At Casa Maestri we have witnessed how everyday, there are more and more people who want to try the agave spirits and its benefits. However, the process of harvesting the agave, unlike many others within production, has not been able to be industrialized or done in series. This is because the "jima" is a process that must be done with strength, precision and a lot of experience, only by a jimador.


A jimador, smiling in the middle of the jima of Casa Maestri's agaves.


The word "jima" comes from Náhuatl and means "to shave or cut", which is precisely what a jimador does; he shaves the agaves by removing the pencas or leaves, leaving only the core and heart of the plant. But the job of a jimador does not only mean cutting every agave he sees. A true jimador has deep knowledge about the agave plant; he knows if it's not ready to harvest yet, he knows the colors, the texture, he knows exactly where to cut.


And, to dig, trim and shave there's an ancient tool, specially designed to do all the job: the coa. This tool, round in shape and with a very sharp end, has been involved in the process of tequila making since forever.


Shown above, two coas used for the process of jimado.


One of the things that are very important for the jima, is to trim the agave leaves's tips to avoid being poked in the process. (One fun fact is, that the tip of the agave is very sharp, almost like a needle. If you get poked by accident, you'll probably end up a bruise for a couple of days.)


So, after the tips have been removed, the jimador now needs to dig deep to be able to dig up the agave and start cutting it. This part is very delicate and it takes a lot of time, since every single leaf is cut out one by one.


As a final result, you get a round, heavy and beautiful piña, ready to be loaded in trucks and taken to Casa Maestri's Distillery for cooking.


Workers, filling up a truck with agave hearts ready to leave for their final destination: the hornos.


Every part of the process of tequila making is amazing to witness. But there is something special about seeing how an agave is cut, knowing all the years it took it to reach its maximum splendor and looking forward to the next step; to become something bigger and more majestic, the best spirit drink in the world.


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