De La Calle Tepache

Ever heard of a wonderful beverage called tepache? Maybe you’ve seen tepache served or even tried it for yourself, but still have questions about this Mexican beverage. We’ve come prepared with answers.

You know all about tequila, but there’s a new Mexican beverage in town. Here is all you need to know about tepache and what makes it special.

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What Is Tepache?

Tepache is a naturally fermented beverage originating from Mexico. It is a mixture made using the skins of ripe pineapple peels, turbinado sugar (or piloncillo, to be exact), cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and a variety of other natural ingredients to add flavor, complexity, and health benefits. It’s sometimes referred to as a pineapple beer, but we think it’s so much more than that. 

Like wine, spirits, or other regional specialties, Tepache recipes draw from ingredients that are native to the area and are passed down through many generations, so that the traditions are honored and preserved over time.

There are thousands of recipes for this popular drink that we know of, and likely many more that are not on our radar. Tepache is closely linked with geography, culture, regional cuisine, and most importantly, the celebration of life!

Served cold from the refrigerator and appropriate for nearly any setting, tepache is something for everyone to enjoy.

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How Is Tepache Made?

The most basic tepache recipe is rather simple, involving just a few key ingredients and an easy-to-follow process.

Water, brown sugar, fresh pineapple rind, and cinnamon are the essentials to make a batch of tepache, but it’s how these ingredients interact that makes tepache something greater than the sum of its parts.

The magic happens through a process of fermentation, whereby microorganisms carry out chemical reactions to convert carbohydrates (sugars) into a diverse range of acids, alcohols, and compounds.

These byproducts have unique and interesting properties that aid in digestion and feature a magnificent variety of flavors that can’t be achieved by cooking or other forms of food preparation.

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The Fermentation Process

Here’s the quick science lesson on tepache production:

  • The ingredients are put in an environment with minimal oxygen (a glass or ceramic jar, container, or industrial-sized vat or barrel). This is usually done in a dark place at room temperature. 
  • Sparking the process of anaerobic energy production that sets fermentation in motion.
  • Natural microbes present in pineapple pieces (yeast, bacteria, and others) react with sugars in this oxygen-limited space.
  • These millions of tiny lifeforms feast on the sugars and convert them into different byproducts and compounds unique to these chemical reactions, which can lead to a white foam that needs to be skimmed off the top. 
  • Depending on which ingredients are present, different types of fermentation will occur.
  • Lactic acid fermentation is the process used to make tepache (also yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles), but you’re also familiar with ethyl alcohol fermentation (booze) and acetic acid fermentation (sour vinegar and kombucha).
  •  Enzymes, alcohols, acids, colors, flavors, and even C02 (bubbles) are created as a result of fermentation over several days, strain the liquid, and BOOM – you have beautiful, vibrant tepache ready to drink!

Fermentation has been studied for centuries by the world’s greatest minds, and we still aren’t 100% sure how it works. That’s okay, though—we’re more than happy with the results.

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What Is the History of Tepache?

To fully understand and appreciate tepache, we need to take a trip back in time to pre-Colombian Mexico, when this regional refreshment was first invented and enjoyed by native people of the Mesoamerican region.

In today’s terms, that would mean the area covering Central and South Mexico, Guatemala, the Western portions of Honduras and El Salvador, and the island of Belize. 

One glance at a map, and you’ll see that this comprises a vast and geologically diverse area, featuring coastlines, jungles, highlands, valleys, and deserts. This sets the stage for a wide array of naturally occurring ingredients from various biomes and cultural pockets.

Of course, the history of this era – dating back many thousands of years – is rather fuzzy to the modern scholar, and we need to put together the pieces given the sparse info we have.

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The Drink Made From… Corn?

With that said, we know that the term tepache originates from a Nahuatl (Aztec or Nahua people) term tepiātl, meaning “drink made from corn.”

Why corn and not pineapple? Maize was originally the base of the first recorded tepache batches, since the ingredient was so widely grown and harvested in abundance.

In the centuries to follow, people experimented with different fruits and spices, eventually landing on pineapple as the most optimal ingredient for fermentation and flavor. It was traditionally made in a clay pot with a lid, although methods have since evolved. 

We can still find corn-based drinks similar to the ancient tepache beverages of the Aztec Empire, now known as products like the Mexican tejuino and the South American chicha de jora.

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A Wealth of Different Recipes

Our understanding of tepache’s origins might not be precise, but uncovering these mysterious ancient recipes is part of the excitement when studying the history of the beverage.

You can imagine exploring the Central American coastline and envisioning the thousands of different tepache recipes that have been invented over a long history of discovery, experimentation, and cultural development.

In recent decades, tepache has become popularized in Mexican street food culture and made its way to the United States as a refreshing drink to accompany spicy fried snacks served from carts, stands, and trucks.

Commercial tepache production has also gained momentum in recent decades, though many of the mass-produced versions lack the all-natural ingredients we want to see in authentic versions of the drink.

In other words, processed sugars and non-organic fruits are used to cheaply produce massive batches of tepache that don’t quite match our standards for taste and authenticity. You’re much better off searching for a family-owned restaurant that brews tepache from scratch in the kitchen and learn about the process from the people who know the tradition first-hand.

The beauty of tepache is that no two recipes are exactly alike, not even in the same region, city, or town square. We closely examined more than 50 different tepache preparations in our research and didn’t even scratch the surface of what tepache culture has to offer.

To study the history of tepache is to discover the distinct, regional influences and ingredients that make up the varied geography of Mexico and Central America.

The more you uncover interesting native ingredients, preparations, and traditions, the more you can appreciate tepache and the rich history behind this iconic pineapple brew.

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What Does Tepache Taste Like?

The taste of tepache is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted – you need to sip it yourself to fully understand the complex flavors created by wonderful natural ingredients and fermentation.

To describe tepache effectively, think of the taste as multi-dimensional, including sweetness from fruit, sourness from lactic acid, heat from cinnamon and other spices, and a unique bubbly texture that is stimulating and refreshing at the same time.

Thanks to the raw, unrefined turbinado sugar, the sweetness of tepache is quite different from the saccharine flavor you might expect from a lemon-lime soda or cola product.

The sweet sensation is subtle and does not overwhelm the palate, allowing you to experience a wide range of flavors at once.

What really separates tepache from other types of beverages is the tart, tangy, and sour sensations you get from the fermentation process, along with the unique fizzy feel of the natural carbonation.

The pineapple and sugar are just one piece of the puzzle, of course. You’ve got a huge variety of possible ingredients that can be introduced to the mix and create brand new avenues of flavor and depth.

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What Are the Health Benefits of Tepache?

It might shock you to discover that a beverage as tasty as tepache is also a certified powerhouse of health, hydration, and overall well-being for the body and mind.

No gimmicks – tepache is positively loaded with healthy properties derived from natural ingredients and the unique compounds created via lactic acid fermentation.

Here are three of the biggest reasons why tepache is a super-beverage worth adding to your routine:

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Big On Probiotics

You’ve heard of probiotics, right? These are the billions of good bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal system and perform tons of important functions to keep us happy and healthy.

As you might know, gut health is all-important for digestion, specifically the absorption and processing of nutrients we get from the food we eat. It also helps us filter waste from the body, fight off diseases, and regulate feel-good chemicals that keep us mentally balanced and focused.

More researchers are discovering that probiotics are crucial, not just for maintaining a healthy gut, but for overall health and well-being throughout the entire body.

The good news about tepache is that it’s loaded with some of the most powerful and productive probiotics known to science. Drinking tepache, along with cleaning up your diet and making other smart lifestyle choices, can lead to massive improvements in your gut health and quality of life.

Sure, you can take probiotic supplements, but why not make the experience of healing your gut more enjoyable with a tasty beverage like tepache?

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Low In Calories

Considering the huge boost of probiotics and flavor you get from tepache, you’d think a single serving of the stuff would contain a lot of calories as well. Wrong!

In one 12-ounce serving of De La Calle tepache, there are only 35 calories total, coming from 18 grams of healthy, energizing carbohydrates.

Compare that to cola, a beer, or a sugary cocktail – it’s only a fraction of the caloric content, and you get so much more mileage out of each sip for your health and happiness.

If you’re trying to cut down on sugary beverages or diet sodas with questionable ingredients, tepache is a wonderful way to take your habits in a healthier direction.

Once you sip tepache for the first time, you’ll wonder how it’s possible for something to taste so good while being so low in calories. Trust us; you won’t be going back to soda after this.

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Top-Quality Ingredients

We can only take so much credit for our tepache creations. All-natural ingredients do most of the work for flavor and all the health benefits we enjoy from tepache of all kinds.

Just run down the list of each ingredient we feature in our tepache, and you’ll find fruits and spices loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other properties that invigorate and boost longevity. Pineapple is loaded with vitamin C, cinnamon is great for aiding in digestive discomfort, and so much more.  

There’s a reason why people who eat and drink naturally fermented beverages tend to live longer, happier lives. No pesticides, no additives, nothing artificial about it! These are the principles we follow with each batch of tepache we make—we’re proud to continue this legacy of authenticity and excellence.

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Is Tepache Like Kombucha?

There are some similar properties shared between tepache and kombucha, with a few distinct differences worth noting.

Kombucha, for starters, originates from tea, meaning that more sugar and flavors must be added to this base product to create a palatable flavor.

On the other hand, tepache gets nearly all its flavor from the natural ingredients of brown sugar, fruits, and spices – no additives needed.

From a flavor standpoint, tepache is slightly milder than kombucha, and therefore more versatile for making cocktails and other enjoyable creations.

It’s ultimately a matter of preference, of course, and tepache and kombucha both have their time and place for enjoyment and health benefits.

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Is Tepache Sugary Like Soda?

Tepache includes a few grams of sugar per serving, but nowhere near the massive quantities found in sugary sodas.

Furthermore, the quality of the sugar used for tepache is far more natural and healthier for the human body to consume. It’s unprocessed and made more digestible by the fermentation process.

You won’t get a weird sugar rush or crash from tepache—just smooth refreshment and natural energy that you can enjoy for hours at a time.

What Are the Different Varieties of Tepache?

While standard tepache is made with pineapple, brown sugar, and usually some cinnamon, there is really no limit to the unique varieties of tepache that can be made.

We’ve encountered tepache made with hot chiles, turmeric, mango, ginger, citrus, apples, and countless other natural fruits and spices. Some recipes even include cactus flowers or other ingredients you would not expect to make a delicious drink.

The culinary arts are all about experimentation, and tepache is no different. You’ve got to take risks to discover new flavors and unlock new recipes.

At De La Calle, we had to choose from dozens of different tepache recipes and hand-pick the best aspects of each one to create something original but remain true to the tradition.

We encourage you to try a variety pack of all our different tepache varieties and pick a favorite to keep your fridge stocked in the future.

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Is There Alcohol in Tepache?

The alcohol content of tepache is minimal, about 2% for the typical batch. The more you ferment tepache, the boozier it becomes – just don’t go overboard!

We prefer to brew our tepache with less alcohol content to let the natural flavors shine through and not be overpowered.

Our tepache recipes are also perfect for adding beer or liquor and making unique cocktails when you’re in the mood. This opens up a whole new world of delicious adult beverages to enjoy with friends and family.

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When Should I Drink Tepache?

There are zero rules for when you should or shouldn’t drink tepache – it’s totally up to you!

Tepache is traditionally consumed alongside bold and spicy Mexican and Central American street food dishes, ideal for lunch or an early afternoon meal.

Of course, you can also enjoy tepache as a mid-day treat to stay productive at work or add a tropical vibe to your beach trip on a day off.

When evening rolls around, you can keep the tepache flowing or add a splash of beer or booze to take things to the next level.

Tepache is all about discovery and making it your own. You make the rules, enjoy it when you want, and share the love with the people around you.

What Is Unique About De La Calle Tepache?

We do things a little differently at De La Calle, but mostly, we stay true to the foundations of tepache and the culture that brings this drink to life.

Mainly, we take pride in the five specially-curated flavors in our lineup – just enough variety to give you a full-color view of what can be accomplished with simple ingredients and time-tested production methods.

Is Tepache the Next Big Thing?

As longtime makers and merchants of tepache, of course we would love to see tepache become the next cross-cultural sensation and make waves in the global culinary scene. 

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There is so much to love and appreciate about tepache, and it deserves far more attention.

Will tepache be the next kombucha and become the next health food sensation? With so much interest and support from our customers, it’s not impossible. 

Tepache checks all the right boxes for health, taste, variety, and versatility – what’s not to like?

As long as tepache continues to be appreciated and enjoyed, we’re happy to share the tradition with the world. So pop open a can and get to enjoying! 



Sources:

 Nahuatl Family | SIL Mexico

Probiotics: What is it, Benefits, Side Effects, Food & Types | Cleveland Clinic

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Fermentation Saga | IFT.org

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