The new 'kombucha'? What to know about trending drink Mexican Tepache

Thanks to the rise of kombucha, lots of us are now familiar with fermented drinks.

But there’s a new trending option that’s joining the bubbly beverage party.

Everyone’s talking about Mexican Tepache: a fruity, fizzy drink that can be ready in a short space of time – with the average fermentation time ranging from three to 10 days.

So, what’s in it?

Award-winning bartender and brand ambassador Chockie Tom tells ‘The three common core ingredients are pineapple skins and core, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar from Mexico) and water.

‘Ceylon (or Canela in Spanish) is often used, some recipes call for clove or other spices, while other use fruits. It’s left to ferment for a few days and usually has a low ABV – around 2%.

‘It can be enjoyed on its own, in a cocktail or topped with beer.’

Perhaps you’ve seen the fermented pineapple drink on a few bar menus – or pop up on your Instagram feed. If not, keep an eye out for it.

‘Before we get too far ahead, we should go back to the beginning, in pre-Columbian Mexico,’ adds Chockie.

‘Tepache’s origins are thought to be from either the Mayan or Nahua people. In fact, the word Tepache itself comes from the Nahuatl word tepiātl, which means crushed corn drink.

‘Its origins would be considered an Ancestral Fermented Beverages, a category of drinks that existed prior to European contact or distillation technology.

‘Mexican Tepache’s use is thought to be tied to ceremonial practices with various botanical ingredients. Tejuino is the closest drink you can find with a corn base today.

‘Pineapples were brought all across the Americas and it’s thought that the pineapples were originally introduced to the recipe as a sweetener leading to the modern-day version.

‘Most production was carried out at home; recipes spread from region to region and were passed down through generations. It never was quite standardised, so there are quite a few recipes out there.’

So, why is it trending now?

Firstly, the taste of it is intriguing says Zoe Burgess, a beverage consultant at Sweeties, The Standard, London.

She explains: ‘Tepache has a distinctive sour and almost savoury profile, which is key to its intrigue. I believe we can thank the boom of bitter tastes in cocktails and how this has educated guests’ palates. 

‘As we become more accustomed to experiences that do not revolve around sweet as a taste, we learn more about our likes, dislikes and importantly – why. This impacts our willingness to try new things – it becomes less intimidating.’

But also, it’s a great non-alcoholic option – especially with the rise of the sober curious movement.

‘Bartenders have been using it on cocktail bars for a few years sometimes as an ingredient or a No/Low ABV option. It’s amazing to substitute for pineapple in a Pina Colada,’ explains Chockie.

Not to mention Mexican Tepache’s environmentally-friendly credentials.

Chockie adds: ‘Tepache is a sustainable way to use the whole pineapple if you include the leaves for garnishes. It’s super easy to make at home and has probiotic properties so it’s been picked up by the health set.  

‘You can easily change the profile by using different botanicals, spices and other fruits, so it’s fun to experiment with.

‘Above all that, it tastes delicious and makes a great pairing with Mexican and other spicy foods.’

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