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Two large jars of aguas frescas in a taquería in Seattle, Washington, USA. On the left is a jar of Jamaica and on the right is a jar of horchata. Restaurant employees serve the drinks by ladling them from the jars into glasses.

Horchata (/ɔːrˈɑːtə/; Spanish: [orˈtʃata] (About this sound listen)), or orxata (Valencian: [oɾˈʃata]), is the name of several kinds of beverages, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, tiger nuts (chufas), or melon seeds.[1][2][3][4]


The name derives from Valencian orxata, probably from ordiata, made from ordi ("barley" < Latin *hordeata < hordeum). The Italian orzata, the French and English orgeat have the same origin, though the beverages themselves have diverged, and are generally no longer made from barley.[5]

Various false etymologies exist – one legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who, after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraya, was said to have exclaimed in Valencian, "Açò és or, xata!" ("That's gold, darling!").[6][7]


A glass of horchata in Valencia

In Spain, horchata is usually horchata de chufa,[8] made from tiger nuts, water, and sugar.

Tiger nuts were introduced to Iberia, and to Valencia in particular, during the period of Islamic rule. There are 13th-century records of a horchata-like beverage made near Valencia.[9]

Horchata de chufa has a regulating council[10] to ensure the quality of the product and the villages from where it can come, with the Designation of Origin.

It is served ice-cold as a natural refreshment in the summer, often served with fartons. Tiger nut horchata is also used instead of milk by the lactose-intolerant.

Latin America[edit]

Hot horchata in Mexico

Horchata varies in taste across Latin America.

While in some countries the drink is usually tan and "milky", some recipes call for milk, and others do not. Other ingredients often include sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Though horchata was once typically homemade, it is now available in both ready-to-drink (shelf-stable or refrigerated) and powdered form in grocery stores. Horchata – together with tamarindo and Jamaica – are the three typical drink flavors of Mexican aguas frescas.

  • In the Central American countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica, horchata refers to the drink known as semilla de jicaro, made from the jicaro seeds ground with rice and spices such as ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tiger nuts and vanilla. Other nuts that may also be used include peanuts, almonds and cashews. Because of these ingredients, the horchata is usually strained before serving. Horchata in Costa Rica is mostly popular in the Pacific region of the country, specially Puntarenas, although it is widely consumed in the rest of the country. Nicaragua has begun exporting this product, primarily to the United States.
  • In Puerto Rico, horchata is called horchata de ajonjolí ("sesame horchata") and made with ground sesame seeds. Water is boiled with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks. When done the water is poured over the ground sesame seeds and left overnight. The water is then squeezed through a cheesecloth. Some recipes call for added ground rice, ground almonds, evaporated milk, coconut milk, allspice and rum. Horchata with barley and lime zest is also popular, but mainly in homes.
  • In Venezuela, horchata is made with sesame seeds, water and sugar in the western area, Zulia. There is also chicha, made with rice flour, milk and sugar. The alcoholic variant is called chicha andina which is made with fermented corn flour.
  • In Ecuador, horchata is a clear red infusion of 18 herbs, and is most famous in the province of Loja.

United States[edit]

A horchata-flavored doughnut

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RECIPE: Horchata :: LOS DOS
  2. ^ Horchata de Melón (Cantaloupe Seed Drink) Recipe | SAVEUR
  3. ^ Adriana Janovich. "Heavenly Horchata" - The Spokesman-Review APRIL 29, 2015
  4. ^ Receta de Horchata de semillas de melón - Recetas de Allrecipes
  5. ^ Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels : Grossman, Anne Chotzinoff; Thomas, Lisa Grossman ISBN 0-393-04559-5
  6. ^ Valencia & the Costa Blanca, Miles Roddis, Lonely Planet, 2002, ISBN 1-74059-032-5 Google Books
  7. ^ MTV Spain, Fernando Gayesky, Elizabeth Gorman, Kristin Luna, Andre Legaspi, Frommer's, 2007, ISBN 0-7645-8772-2 Google Books
  8. ^ Lauren Rothman. Spanish-Style cTiger Nut Horchata Recipe - Serious Eats - April 14, 2014.
  9. ^ Clifford A. Wright, Mediterranean Vegetables, 2012, ISBN 1558325913, s.v. 'chufa'
  10. ^ "Consejo Regulador de la D.O. Chufa de Valencia. Horchata de Chufa de Valencia - Portada". Chufadevalencia.org. 2002-12-31. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  11. ^ Horchata de Arroz Tostado (Toasted Rice Drink) Recipe | SAVEUR
  12. ^ Horchata de Arroz con Almendras (Almond-Rice Drink) Recipe | SAVEUR
  13. ^ Emeril Lagasse, Horchata Recipe : Food Network Taste of Mexico, 2007.
  14. ^ Horchata Recipe & Video - Martha Stewart.
  15. ^ Refreshing Rice Drink: Horchata de Arroz by Karen Hursh Graber 2003 (MexConnect).
  16. ^ "McDonald's Testing Horchata Frappes in Southern California". Foodbeast. 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 

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