Agave tequilana Weber variedad azul is the scientific name for blue agave (pronounced ah-GAH-veh). The fermented juice of the blue agave plant is what tequila is made from. Most tequila is made in Mexico, and the plant grows well in the hot Mexican climate.
The blue agave is a succulent plant with large, fleshy leaves. All of the leaves grow upward and outward from a central point. The leaves are blue-green in color, giving the plant its name. Blue agave grows up to 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
Blue agave needs at least 10 hours of full sun each day. The plant grows best in the hot climates of southern North America. Agave plants grow best in sandy, fast-draining soil. The plant requires no watering once it establishes a strong root system; it can survive on the water it takes in from infrequent rain.
It is not known where the blue agave plant originated. It grows best in USDA zones 9 through 11 and is currently grown in the southern United States and Mexico. All of the blue agave plants currently in existence were propagated and cultivated by humans.
Harvesting Blue Agave for Tequila
All of the blue agave harvested to produce tequila is done by human hands. Field workers strip off the leaves with knives or machetes. The heart of the plant is salvaged and the sap is fermented to create tequila.
Tequila is a town in Jalisco, Mexico, where blue agave is cultivated. The name "tequila" is protected by a treaty with Mexico and 26 other countries. Only tequila made in 126 small Mexican towns may bear the true tequila name.