Horchata (//; Spanish: [oɾˈtʃata] (listen)), or orxata (Valencian: [oɾˈtʃata]), is a name given to various beverages, generally plant-based but sometimes containing animal milk. In Spain it is made with soaked, ground, and sweetened tiger nuts. In Latin America, and other parts of the Americas, the base is jicaro, melon or sesame seeds, or white rice, along with other spices. In West African countries such as Nigeria and Mali, similar beverages are known as kunnu aya. Different varieties can be served hot or cold, and may be used as a flavor in other beverages, such as frappé coffee.
The name probably derives from a Latin word for barley, the term hordeata, which in turn comes from hordeum (barley), related to a Mediterranean tradition of grain-based beverages.  The Italian and Maltese orzata, the French and English orgeat have the same origin, though the beverages themselves have diverged, and are generally no longer made from barley.
A false etymology recounts that James I of Aragon, after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraya, exclaimed in Valencian, "Açò és or, xata!" ("That's gold, pretty girl!").
History and composition
The drink possibly originated in North Africa, and it is estimated that during the 11th century it began to spread throughout Hispania (now Spain and Portugal). There are 13th-century records of a horchata-like beverage made near Valencia, where it remains a popular drink today.
From Spain, the concept of horchata was brought to the New World. Here, drinks called agua de horchata or simply horchata came to be made with white rice and cinnamon or canella instead of tiger nuts. Sometimes these drinks had vanilla added, or were served adorned with fruit.
Today, these and other similarly flavored plant based beverages are sold in various parts of the world as varieties of horchata or kunnu.
Horchata de chufa or kunnu aya
The drink now known as horchata de chufa (also sometimes called horchata de chufas or, in West African countries such as Nigeria and Mali, kunnu aya) is the original form of horchata. It is made from soaked, ground and sweetened tiger nuts. According to researchers at the University of Ilorin, kunnu made from tiger nuts is an inexpensive source of protein.
It remains popular in Spain, where a regulating council exists to ensure the quality and traceability of the product in relation to the designation of origin. There it is served ice-cold as a natural refreshment in the summer, often served with fartons.
The majority of the Spanish tiger nut crop is utilised in the production of horchata de chufa. Alboraya is the most important production centre. In total, sixteen Valencian municipalities grow tiger nuts protected by the quality seal, the only one that guarantees its Valencian origin, which in aggregate cover around 485 hectares of tiger nut fields, with an approximate annual production of 8,000 tonnes, which is normally all sold by the time it is harvested. 
Horchata de arroz
Though horchata de arroz was once typically homemade, it is now available in both ready-to-drink (shelf-stable or refrigerated) and powdered form in grocery stores, principally in the U.S. and Latin America.
Horchata de ajonjolí
Horchata de ajonjolí ("sesame horchata") is made with toasted ground sesame seeds. In Puerto Rico, it is typically made by pouring boiling water over sesame seeds and left to soak 24 hours. It is then strained adding sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Evaporated milk, coconut milk, and rum can be added.
Horchata de melón
Semilla de jicaro
In the Central American countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica, horchata refers to the drink known as semilla de jicaro. Its base is made from grinding jicaro seeds, also locally referred to as "morro" seeds, ground with rice. Depending on the region, other additions include ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tiger nuts, vanilla, ground peanuts, almonds and cashews.
In Nicaragua, it is made with semilla de jicaro and rice as a base. They are toasted and then ground into a fine powder. The powder is then mixed with water or milk and mixed with cinnamon powder and sugar. Cocoa beans are sometimes added to the horchata, also toasted and ground with the base.
In Ecuador, horchata is a clear red infusion or tea of 18 herbs, and is most famous in the province of Loja. Some of the herbs used are escancel or bloodleaf, lemon verbena, lemon grass, mint, chamomile, lemon balm, rose geranium, among others. It is not at all related to horchata of other Latin American countries, it simply shares the same denomination.
The urban and rural people who consume the “horchata” drink in the Loja province report wellbeing benefits, and believe that this herbal mixture infusion promotes a healthy digestion, improves memory, and acts as an hepatic anti-inflammatory and a diuretic. There is also genotoxic activity in some of its ingredients .
Horchata as a flavor
Horchata, as a flavor, makes appearances in ice cream, cookies, and other sweets, and other products such as RumChata, an alcoholic tribute to the beverage. Some smoothie shops, cafés, and McDonald's in the U.S. have been experimenting with horchata-flavored frappes.
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horchata (cold milk mixed with rice, cocoa, and cinnamon)
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Horchata milk, in its natural form, should not contain lactose because it is a vegetable drink made from tigernut, water and sugar. However, manufacturers often add lactose to it to improve the product, so please read the label carefully to find out the list of ingredients before you drink horchata milk.
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Traditionally, horchata contains milk or milk powder, so here is my 'veganised' version.
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horchata (chufa OR tiger).
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