Just when you think you’ve tried all milky teas in the world, there will always be one more new or traditional milky drink to make your day. Meet horchata, a traditional and very unique drink made with rice and cinnamon. It’s usually served cold and a must try if you love milky teas.
What is horchata tea?
Technically, horchata is neither a tea nor a milky drink. First, it doesn’t include any tea, neither herbal nor real, and it’s usually not made with milk – although you may add some. However, making horchata is very similar to making rice milk. That’s why the prepared drink will be deliciously milky. Horchata is a traditional Mexican and Spanish drink, and just like Teh Tarik is served in restaurants in Malaysia and Hong Kong milk tea in Hong Kong, horchata is served in many Mexican restaurants. It’s usually served ice cold, offers a delicious refreshment and goes well with Mexican food.
There are different types of horchata tea. Mexican horchata is usually made with rice, while Spanish horchata is made from tiger nuts instead. Next, you should always add cinnamon into the actual recipe while making Mexican horchata, while Spanish horchata can be only decorated with ground cinnamon powder.
Although Spanish horchata, or horchata de chufa, is considered more traditional, the rice horchata is easier to make. Tiger nut tubers or chufa or earth almonds are not widely available, which makes rice horchata a perfect alternative. Horchata may have originated from Africa and later spread to Valencia and other cities . It’s still highly popular in this Spanish city.
Except in Mexico and Spain, horchata is also popular and an important drink in some African countries. European countries, such as Italy, have their own versions of this drink too. Different types may include different ingredients.
Horchata will have a different flavor, depending on the ingredients you are using. Both rice and tiger nuts are naturally slightly sweet. If you are making Mexican horchata, it will have a light and refreshing, sweet rice flavor with cinnamon notes. Horchata with tiger nuts will taste more nutty, more similar to almond drink. If you add even more different ingredients, such as cardamom, it will be slightly spicy too. Keep in mind though, whichever horchata you are making, it should be smooth and creamy, not watery and flavorless.
Potential Health Benefits
Horchata may provide many health benefits, but they will depend on the ingredients. Therefore, tiger nuts may provide different benefits than rice. Studies showed tigernuts are rich in carbs,  and fiber and contain “alkaloids, saponins, and tannins”  that may provide antibacterial activity, anti inflammatory activity, help with wound healing, prevent tooth decay and even reduce the risk of some cancers and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases. Traditionally, they have been used as an aphrodisiac and antivenin .
Horchata is naturally caffeine free. It’s made with ingredients that don’t contain any caffeine, and it’s doesn’t contain any real tea. Tiger nuts or rice, nuts, vanilla and cinnamon are all caffeine free, making horchata a perfect drink for an all-day sipping. Be careful though, if you are using a lot of sugar, your healthy drink may not be so healthy. To replace sugar, use either honey or vanilla extract. Traditional horchata, both Spanish and Mexican, are dairy free.
How to Make Horchata Tea
To make the simples horchata tea, you will need a few ingredients only:
- Long grain white rice or tiger nuts
- Evaporated milk
Additional ingredients that you can use are:
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Vanilla extract or vanilla pod
- Other nuts
Homemade horchata is not a drink you can make fast, but it also won’t require too much effort. You will need a blender, a big jug and a fridge. You may also need some ice if you want to serve it as cold as possible. Making a proper authentic horchata will require at least 12 hours, but the actual preparation time is about 10-15 minutes.
For Mexican horchata you will need:
- 1 cup of rice
- 1 cup of evaporated milk
- 7 cups of water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Wash raw rice and place it into a bigger bowl. Always use raw uncooked rice.
- Add crushed or whole cinnamon sticks.
- Pour 4 cups of water into a bowl with rice and cinnamon and let it soak the rice and cinnamon overnight either at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Add soaked rice and cinnamon together with water from soaking into a blender. You can divide it into two or three batches if your blender is not big enough.
- Blend the rice mixture until smooth.
- Use a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth to strain the liquid into a bigger jug.
- Add evaporated milk and the rest of the water.
- Serve in glasses topped with ice.
Where to Buy
You can’t buy traditional horchata. If you want to try this drink, you will either need to visit countries where it’s popular, or learn how to make it at home. However, there are some blends with horchata flavor, although they won’t be authentic. If you love the flavor of horchata, they may be a great substitute for a quick and easy drink.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.