Monday, December 18, 2017

Refreshing mabi

The bark of the mabi tree is used for the beverageColmados throughout the Dominican Republic stock a not so well-known drink called mavi, sometimes also spelled mabi, be it commercially bottled under the brand Mabi Taino, or as homemade brews in any bottle you can think of. Made from the bark of the mabi tree, also known as soldierwood, this drink is usually both fizzy and fermented. Much loved by Dominicans and other islanders, this drink is said to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and make men more potent.



Use turbinado sugar for an extra note of molasses in the drinkHow is it made
The bark is removed from the Mavi tree and boiled to make a tea. A lot of sugar is added. Dominicans usually use raw sugar or turbanado sugar. The latter is best if you want a hint of molasses to your drink. Many also add cinnamon, aniseed, nutmeg or vanilla extract to add further flavors to the beverage. After that either some yeast is added, or a portion of the previous batch, and it is left uncovered for a few days to ferment.

The fermentation process is usually too short to create alcohol but some may be lightly alcoholic. Some people leave the beverage to ferment for up to a month and longer. The alcoholic effects can then definitely be noted. The beverage can also be consumed without it being fermented. Fermented or not, it’s always drunk ice-cold.

Ice-cold homebrewn mavi ready to be drunkWhat does it taste of
Although most people compare mabi to root beer, it is often said that it is more bitter than root beer. Some have described the taste as a spiced and sweetened chai or apple cider, only carbonated.  To many, it is an acquired taste. An initial laxative reaction unexpected to many first-time drinkers has also often been reported.

Folk medicine
In folk medicine, mabi is variously ascribed the ability to lower cholesterol, counteract arthritis, reduce high blood pressure, act as an aphrodisiac, relieve dysentery, lower diabetics’ blood sugar, and if nothing else, it is considered an excellent thirst-quenching beverage. In fact, a study from the University of the West Indies has shown that consumption of mabi, especially when mixed with green coconut water, can significantly reduce hypertension.

Commercially brewn Mabi TainoMabi syrup
Mabi can also be bought as a pre-made syrup. Consumers then have to mix it with either sparkling or still water, according to taste. Most mabi drinkers however still prefer the taste of homemade mabi, hence the popularity of those obscure unmarked bottles at the colmado.

The syrup can be used as a mixer in cocktails together with spritzer. The homemade mavi drink can also be used as a substitute for cola but the appearance of the resulting cocktail is said to be lackluster, although the taste is reported to be good.  

The tree
Both the Dominican Republic and Haiti are said to be the biggest exporters of mavi barl and leaves. Recently, however, a researcher has been able to extract the microorganisms responsible for the mavi taste from a branch, meaning that the beverage can now be made without having to cut down the tree.
The bark of the mabi tree is used for the beverageBottles of mavi in colmados - photo mabidebojucoindio

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