National Tequila Day 2020: Drink in some surprising facts

Leah Asmelash and Brian Ries, CNNUpdated 24th July 2020
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(CNN) — It's National Tequila Day in the United States. And if there's ever a year in which we deserve a shot or two, 2020 is it.
In honor of the holiday, here are five surprising facts you might not have known about tequila.

It's from a plant (which means it's healthy, right?)

Have no fear, gluten-free folks! Tequila is perfectly all right for you to drink. Tequila is made from fermenting the juice from the blue agave plant, which has a core called piña because it looks a little like a pineapple. Once the piña is harvested, it's brought to a distillery to be roasted to unleash its juices, which are fermented, distilled and aged before being bottled.

Tequila is a type of mezcal, but mezcal is not tequila

OK, it's a little confusing, so let's break it down. Mezcal and tequila are both made from agave, but tequila can be made only from the blue agave plant. The flavor profiles can be a little different, with mezcal being a little smokier.

Tequila must be made in a specific area of Mexico

You know how true Champagne has to be made in the Champagne region of France? It's a similar thing here. In order to be labeled tequila, production has to occur in the state of Jalisco or in some neighboring states. But most tequila production is in Jalisco.

Tequila was born in, you guessed it, Tequila

And yes, the city is in Jalisco. It's the birthplace of the iconic drink, where indigenous Mexicans would ferment the juice of the blue agave before it became the staple it is now. Many distilleries are still based in the town, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006.

If not for women, tequila may not even exist

Historically, the women of Tequila (as in the town) have been the ones who cultivated the blue agave plants, called hijuelos (little children). Women can still be seen today working the fields from February to July, when the plants sprout.