Horchata (/ɔːrˈɑːtə/; Spanish: [oɾˈtʃata] (About this soundlisten)), or orxata (Valencian: [oɾˈtʃata]), is a name given to various kinds of plant milk beverages of similar taste and appearance. It is known in Valencia as orxata de xufa. 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, it is 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.

A glass of horchata de chufa with some fartons in Valencia

History and compositionEdit

Traditional Valencian fridge horchatera

Horchata, which comes from the Latin term hordeata, which in turn comes from hordeum (barley), is a term related to a Mediterranean tradition of grain-based beverages and also the linguistic root of orgeat syrup. The Valencian or Chufa horchata is made with dried and sweetened tiger nuts (Cyperus esculentus).[1] This form of horchata is now properly called orxata de xufa[1][2] or, in West African countries such as Nigeria and Mali, kunnu aya.[3][4][5] It is estimated that during the 11th century it began to spread throughout Hispania (now Spain and Portugal).[1] There are 13th-century records of a horchata-like beverage made near Valencia.[6]

From Valencia, where it remained popular, 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.[1] Sometimes these drinks had vanilla added,[2] or were served adorned with fruit.[1]

Today, these and other similarly-flavored plant milk beverages are sold in various parts of the world as varieties of horchata or kunnu.


Horchata de chufa or kunnu ayaEdit

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

The drink now known as horchata de chufa (also sometimes called horchata de chufas[7] or, in West African countries such as Nigeria and Mali, kunnu aya[3][4][5]) is the original form of horchata.[1] It is made from soaked, ground and sweetened tiger nuts.[1] According to researchers at the University of Ilorin, kunnu made from tiger nuts is an inexpensive source of protein.[citation needed]

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.[8] There it is served ice-cold as a natural refreshment in the summer, often served with fartons. Horchata de chufa is also used instead of dairy milk by the lactose-intolerant.[citation needed]

The majority of the Spanish tiger nut crop is utilised in the production of horchata de chufa.[9] Alboraya is the most important production centre.[9]

In rare instances, various forms of aflatoxin may be present in horchata de chufa.[10]

Horchata de arrozEdit

Hot horchata in Mexico

Horchata de arroz is made of rice, sometimes with vanilla and typically with cinnamon.[1][11][12]

It is the most common variety of horchata in Mexico and Guatemala.[citation needed] In the United States, it is popular in taquerías and Mexican ice cream shops.[13][14][15]

In Alvarado, horchata de arroz is scented with flowers of the Aztec marigold (cempasúchil or Tagetes erecta).[16]

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.[citation needed]

Horchata de arroz is one of the three typical drink flavors of Mexican aguas frescas, together with tamarindo and hibiscus.[citation needed]

Horchata de ajonjolíEdit

Horchata de ajonjolí ("sesame horchata") is made with toasted ground sesame seeds.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Evaporated milk, coconut milk, and rum can be added.[citation needed]

Horchata is also made with sesame seeds, water and sugar in Zulia, an area in the west of Venezuela.[citation needed]

Horchata de melónEdit

Horchata de melón is made of ground melon seeds.[17][18][19][20][permanent dead link]

Semilla de jicaroEdit

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 grounding jicaro seeds, also locally referred to as "morro" seeds, ground with rice.[21][22] Depending on the region, other additions include ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tiger nuts, vanilla, ground peanuts, almonds and cashews[citation needed]

In Nicaragua, it is made with semilla de jicaro and rice as a base. They are toasted and then grinded into a fine powder. The powder is then mixed with water or milk and mixed with cinnamon powder and sugar.[23][24] Cocoa beans are sometimes added to the horchata, also toasted and grinded with the base.[25]

Ecuadorian horchataEdit

In Ecuador, horchata is a clear red infusion of 18 herbs, and is most famous in the province of Loja.[26]

Horchata as a flavorEdit

An horchata-flavored doughnut

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.[27] Some smoothie shops, cafés, and McDonald's in the U.S. have been experimenting with horchata-flavored frappes.[28]


The name derives from Valencian orxata, probably from ordiata, made from ordi ("barley": Latin *hordeata < hordeum).[26] 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.[29]

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!").[30][31][32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Goldstein, Darra (4 July 2018). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199313396 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b Cho, Susan; Almeida, Nelson (29 May 2012). Dietary Fiber and Health. CRC Press. ISBN 9781439899373 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Cho, Susan; Almeida, Nelson (29 May 2012). Dietary Fiber and Health. CRC Press. ISBN 9781439899298 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b Cheney, Dina (3 May 2016). The New Milks: 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781501103940 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Gittleman, Ann Louise (19 May 2017). The New Fat Flush Foods. McGraw Hill Professional. ISBN 9781260012071 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Clifford A. Wright, Mediterranean Vegetables, 2012, ISBN 1558325913, s.v. 'chufa'
  7. ^ Grigson, Jane (1 January 1983). Jane Grigson's book of European cookery. Atheneum – via Internet Archive. horchata (chufa OR tiger).
  8. ^ "Consejo Regulador de la D.O. Chufa de Valencia. Horchata de Chufa de Valencia - Portada". Chufadevalencia.org. 2002-12-31. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
  9. ^ a b Leitch, James Muil (4 July 1967). "Food Science and Technology: Manufacture and distribution of foods". Gordon and Breach – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Weidenbörner, Martin (24 January 2014). Mycotoxins in Foodstuffs. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781461487272 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "Horchata de Arroz Tostado (Toasted Rice Drink)". Saveur.
  12. ^ "Horchata de Arroz con Almendras (Almond-Rice Drink)". 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. ^ Gonzalez, Anita (4 July 2018). Jarocho's Soul: Cultural Identity and Afro-Mexican Dance. University Press of America. ISBN 9780761827757 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ "RECIPE: Horchata". Los Dos. Archived from the original on 2017-07-31. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  18. ^ "Horchata de Melón (Cantaloupe Seed Drink)". Saveur.
  19. ^ Adriana Janovich. "Heavenly Horchata" - The Spokesman-Review APRIL 29, 2015
  20. ^ "Horchata de semillas de melón". allrecipes.com.mx.
  21. ^ Spiegel, Alison (July 10, 2014). "Why Horchata Is Your New Best Friend This Summer". HuffPost. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  22. ^ "Starbucks' Latest Frappuccino Takes Inspiration From Horchata Drinks". nbcmiami.com. August 10, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  23. ^ Wei, Clarissa (November 9, 2015). "A Taste of Nicaragua: Three Traditional Drinks". Eater. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  24. ^ "Las distintas aplicaciones del jícaro como fruta tropical". Hoy Digital. July 8, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  25. ^ "Horchata de Arroz Recipe (Latin sweet rice beverage)". Whats4eats. July 11, 2008.
  26. ^ a b Rios, Montserrat; Tinitana, Fani; Jarrín, Pablo; Donoso, Natalia; Romero-Benavides, Juan Carlos (9 March 2017). ""Horchata" drink in Southern Ecuador: medicinal plants and people's wellbeing". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 13 (1). article №18. doi:10.1186/s13002-017-0145-z. PMC 5345160. PMID 28279218.
  27. ^ "RumChata fights to protect trademark" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  28. ^ "McDonald's Testing Horchata Frappes in Southern California". Foodbeast. May 12, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  29. ^ 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
  30. ^ Valencia & the Costa Blanca, Miles Roddis, Lonely Planet, 2002, ISBN 1-74059-032-5 Google Books
  31. ^ MTV Spain, Fernando Gayesky, Elizabeth Gorman, Kristin Luna, Andre Legaspi, Frommer's, 2007, ISBN 0-7645-8772-2 Google Books
  32. ^ Consejo regulador denominación de origen Chufa de Valencia,"Història de l'roxata de xufa".

External linksEdit