Aguas frescas, traditional Mexican beverages
There is a wide variety of aguas frescas - Photo: Gerardo Jácome/EL UNIVERSAL

Aguas frescas, traditional Mexican beverages

Mexico City
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These non-alcoholic fresh beverages are made with tropical fruits, seeds, flowers, grains, and leaves

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Mango, melon, papaya, lime, watermelon, guava, orange, pineapple, and almost any tropical fruit can be used to prepare fresh beverages, commonly known as aguas frescas that go with traditional Mexican food.

Mexican cuisine is characterized by being spicy and flavored, and perhaps that is why – and also because of the warm weather in most parts of the country – national gastronomy also offers a wide variety of non-alcoholic fresh beverages to ease the heat and the spiciness.

The way to prepare aguas frescas is simple: Just peel the fruit, blend the pulp and mix it with water and sugar to taste.


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Aguas frescas of sapodilla, pitaya, soursop, green or red prickly pear fruit, nance, and Mexican hawthorn are prepared in the same way but only during certain seasons and in some regions.

A classic and popular beverage is tamarind water, a plant that came to Mexico all the way from India during Colonial times and that was adopted by Mexican taste.


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To prepare fresh tamarind water, you must peel the pod and soak it in water for several minutes to extract the pulp. Then, simply blend it with sugar and water.

Fresh beverages are not only made with tropical fruits but also with seeds, leaves, grains, and flowers. Their flavors are extracted through processes that are a bit more complicated and are usually mixed with extra ingredients.

The easiest example is hibiscus water. Hibiscus is a flower that comes from África and that was brought to Mexico in Colonial times. It currently grows in Campeche, Colima, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, but is consumed practically in all Mexican homes and restaurants.


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In different regions of Africa and the Middle East, this flower is simply boiled with other plants and drank as a tea, but in Mexico, it is left to cool to then lower the concentrate with water and sweeten it, for few people resist such an acid flavor as the one of pure hibiscus tea.

But perhaps the favorite non-alcoholic beverage of Mexicans is horchata, which is made mainly with ground rice and cinnamon and mixed with water. In many regions, it is served with chunks of melon, pine nuts, prickly pear fruit juice, rose petals, or lime zest.

In the Mexican middle country region, known as El Bajío, they drink barley water, which is originally from Spain and that has certain similitude with the preparation of rice horchata. Actually, in Spain, barley water is sold in places called “horchaterías.”


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There are pre-Hispanic beverages such as pozol, tejate, and tescalete that are prepared with ground and knead ingredients, but their main ingredients are corn and cacao, to plants endemic to Mexico and Central America.

For tejate, originally from Oaxaca, corn is toasted and made into flour; it is mixed with fermented cacao grains, mamey seeds (previously ground) until a dough is formed and mixed with cold water.


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Pozol is very common in Tabasco. It is made with nixtamal (boiled corn pulp) that is ground with cacao until a dough is created and is mixed with water. Tamales and panuchos are also made with that dough.

Other popular beverages include chía water, which is a seed; lucern water, a leaf; in addition to tepache (a ferment of piloncillo – brown sugar – and fruits), tejuino (similar to tepache) and pulque ( a ferment of agave sap) that despite being alcoholic drinks, they are still used in some regions of the country to accompany food and refreshing on warm days.


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