Many people wonder what the purpose of the worm is in tequila bottles. There is a lot of speculation that eating the worm makes you hallucinate, but is this true or false? What type of worm even is it? So many questions…
Some say the worm is just for fun or tradition, while others say there are specific health benefits and uses. This article will explore what the worms in tequila do and why they put them there!
Does tequila have a worm in the bottle?
Technically, no, there aren’t worms at the bottom of most tequila bottles.
The “worm” is more typically found in bottles of mezcal. An alcoholic drink in the same family, but slightly different to tequila, with smokier notes.
Tequila is a type of mezcal and a more well-known drink outside of Mexico, which is why referring to it as the “tequila worm” became standard. Technically, calling it a mezcal worm is more accurate.
We’ll refer to them as tequila worms in this post, but don’t be surprised if you don’t find a worm in your tequila bottle!
What type of worm is in the bottom of the bottle?
The worm in a bottle of tequila or mezcal is also called a “gusano” or “gusano de maguey” and it’s basically just a dried up larvae.
The most common type you’ll find at the bottom of the tequila bottle are larvae from maguey worms, which grow to about one centimeter in length.
Maguey worms are an edible species of worm – technically, caterpillar from the moth family – that infest the Agave tequilana plants that tequila and mezcal are made from.
A popular belief says that if you eat the worm found at the bottom of your favorite glass of tequila or mezcal bottles, then you will have hallucinations or even visions in your dreams. But what does eating this really do?
Does drinking tequila or mezcal with a worm inside make people hallucinate?
The answer would appear to be, no.
This is a common question but there’s little scientific evidence backing up this possibility.
While some anecdotal reports exist, it’s not thought the worm is what actually gives you hallucinations.
Many believe these hallucinations are more likely caused by the high alcohol percentage of tequila which can make us see colors differently than we would if we weren’t drinking.
As well as other substances the person is mixing into their night besides drink which could be responsible for these effects, such as cocaine, ecstasy or LSD.
Eating the worm found at the bottom of the bottle of mezcal or tequila will not have any hallucinogen effect despite the stories you may have heard from the local mezcal drinker.
What does eating the worm in tequila do? What’s the tradition behind eating the mezcal worm?
The worm-eating tradition is just a fun thing that people do to celebrate or add some excitement to what they’re drinking–it’s all in good fun!
Some say it adds flavor and supposedly brings luck, too.
Should you eat the worm at the bottom of the bottle?
The reality of eating worms from tequila bottles is barely worth considering for these reasons:
- Eating the small gusano variety would most likely just taste like dirt with lots of alcohol on top. And while we’ll give anyone credit who wants to try this challenge it’s not particularly tasty or worth it.
- Worms are actually pretty tough little creatures – although they’re edible, you’ll feel every bite and the thought of it will make some feel nauseous. But most people who eat the worm, pretty much “drink” it down in one go so they never get to feel the crunch of the mezcal worm.
The only reason it is worth doing is for a bit of fun or to impress your friends with an act of machismo, or that special someone you’ve taken on a date – though don’t be surprised if it has the opposite effect in this scenario!
They also have more protein than what is found in other types of worms, so if you’ve just had a workout, it may be worth getting that worm down your neck.
Why are these worms used in Tequila?
Larvae from maguey worms are used in tequila and mezcal because they are actually a natural byproduct of mezcal production, and they’re believed to be necessary for the flavor profile by the mezcal maker.
Though this is largely a myth (more on this later).
After infesting the agave plant, and then being filtered out from amber-colored agave juice, maguey worm larvae can continue to grow within an enclosed environment inside distilleries or warehouses.
They grow until they become too large and need to be removed before entering the next phase in production – usually around two months!
The larval form has enzymes that help break down starches into sugars during fermentation so their use is advantageous as well as relatively common among tequila and mezcal producers who want consistency with their product’s taste.
They don’t necessarily add any major flavor though – just something interesting at the bottom of the bottle once they’ve served their purpose of keeping the tequila’s taste consistent.
It has become more of a cool marketing ploy.
Does the maguey worm larvae outside of the tequila bottle have any health benefits?
Not really – while they’re safe to eat, and delicious in some dishes or fried with pork rinds, the larva doesn’t have much nutritional value besides a bit of protein.
So then what does eating a worm do? It tastes good!
In Mexico, there are at least five different ways of serving up maguey worms including frying them with rice and salsa, adding them into hot chocolate or even cooking them into scrambled eggs for breakfast!
Can you get sick drinking tequila with a worm?
Outside of the fact that it’s not really a worm – what you might actually be eating is larva or grubs, but no, there is no risk to your health.
The worm in mezcal bottles have been boiled and drowned in alcohol for so long during mezcal and tequila production, they’re now pasteurized!