Before the rise of almond, soy, coconut, and cashew-nut milks, there was another trendy milk blend with a long and proud history: horchata, a refreshing, milky drink made with almonds, tiger nuts, or rice and often flavored with cinnamon. This trendy drink has been popping up lately everywhere from Starbucks to Bobaguys to Walgreens — so we figured it’s long overdue to break down the nuts and bolts of this delicious beverage.
The first thing to know is that there are two types of horchata: horchata de chufa and horchata de arroz.
Horchata de chufa is the more ancient method of making horchata. This version originated in Spain, and traditionally one makes it with chufa (known as tiger nuts in English), which can be traced back to ancient Egypt. In order to make horchata de chufa, the tiger nuts are harvested, cleaned, and then dried for up to 4 months. Once the chufas are dried, they are ground up, which releases the milky liquid. Some lemon juice is then added to the milky liquid, and the batch is then filtered. The drink is often served with a bun for dipping called a farton. (An elegant sounding sidekick, to say the least!)
The second type of horchata is a Mexican version known as horchata de arroz. There are many variations of Mexican horchata, which can include dried and fresh fruits, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and coconut, among many other ingredients. All you need for a basic horchata de arroz is some long-grain white rice and cinnamon sticks, which are blended in a food processor and allowed to sit overnight. The next day, you can add whichever spices you prefer to the blend.
If you’re really into these flavors but have more of a sweet tooth, you can also serve horchata as a delicious dessert