Is Tepache Alcoholic?

Tepache is a traditional Mexican street beverage made from fermented pineapple that is gaining popularity outside of Mexico. Much like kombucha, given that tepache is a fermented beverage, one question that often arises is: is tepache alcoholic? In this article, we’ll give you a brief overview of tepache and provide an answer to that very question. 

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What is tepache? 

Before we get to the question of whether or not tepache is alcoholic, let’s take a look at tepache in general. 

Tepache is a beverage made from the fermented peels and core of the pineapple. In traditional recipes, it is flavored with cinnamon and panela which is pure, raw cane sugar often used in Central and South American cooking. 

Although the basis of the tepache recipe is pineapple, cinnamon, and panela, several variations of this drink exist in Mexico because the invention of tepache dates back to pre-Columbian Mexico. Unlike other Mexican foods and beverages, tepache was never standardized and taxed by the Spaniards, so different regions of Mexico have different recipes for making tepache.

Today, tepache is still widely popular in Mexico and is often sold in plastic baggies by vendors on the street. Because of its accessibility and portability, tepache is often a much needed, refreshing pick-me-up for people in the middle of the day. 

Tepache is slightly orangish in color and due to the carbonation has the same texture of kombucha and beer. It has a light, sweet and sour flavor and a distinctive pineapple aftertaste. Tepache is known for its citrusy flavor but is often mixed with other strong spices such as tamarind and chili. 

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Is tepache alcoholic?

The short answer to the question of whether or not tepache is alcoholic is: yes. 

But, there is a very small amount of alcohol in tepache due to the fermentation process. During fermentation, sugars are broken down into alcohol and carbon dioxide, so most fermented drinks naturally contain some alcohol. 

Usually, tepache has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of roughly 0.5%-2%. In the United States, a beverage must contain 0.5% alcohol or less to be deemed officially “non-alcoholic” by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau. 

That being said, the amount of alcohol in the drink varies greatly depending on the amount of time the beverage ferments for and the climate in which it ferments. For the most part, fermentation in warmer climates leads to a higher alcohol content. 

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ABV of Tepache Compared to Other Alcoholic Beverages 

If you’re not familiar with the alcohol content of other alcoholic beverages, then you might be wondering how tepache compares to drinks such as beer, wine, and liquor. 

In order to help you contextualize ABV, here’s a list of common alcoholic beverages in their standard size and their ABV as compared to tepache:

  • 12 ounces of tepache, ABV 0.5%-2%
  • 12 ounces of beer, ABV 5%
  • 5 ounces of wine, 10%
  • 1.5 ounces of a distilled spirit, 40% ABV

From this list you can see that the amount of alcohol in tepache is considerably less than drinks we usually consider alcoholic. For this reason, tepache is often compared to kombucha rather than beverages like beer and wine. Much like kombucha, although tepache contains alcohol, it is not considered an alcoholic beverage. 

Can anyone drink tepache?

Given that the amount of alcohol in tepache is so low, anyone can drink it, including kids. In fact, it makes a great substitute for sugary drinks like soda. Most types of soda contain lots of unhealthy artificial sweeteners and sugars. This means that when you drink them you get a boost of energy followed quickly by a crash once the sugar works its way through your system.

Given that our tepache is low in sugar, it will provide the delicious, bubbly texture of soda without the sugar crash. It is also much more hydrating than traditional soda, so, overall, it is a healthier, natural alternative that doesn’t force you to sacrifice either taste or texture. 

How is tepache made? 

Tepache is relatively easy to make and can even be made at home (though we’ve got to say -- our recipes are pretty good!). 

Essentially, to make tepache, you need the pineapple rinds and core, water, sugar, and any other additional ingredients you want to add. Once you gather the ingredients, add them to a large glass jar starting with the sugar and water, making sure the sugar fully dissolves. From there add the pineapples and any other spices you’d like. 

The most important thing to remember when making tepache is that the pineapple has to be fully submerged in water to avoid mold. 

From there, you can sit back and let science do the work! Cover your container with a dish towel and secure the top. Leave it covered to ferment for 1-3 days. You’ll know your tepache is done fermenting when it’s as strong, or as mild, as you’d like. The longer it ferments, the more sour and alcoholic it will become. 

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Making Tepache More Alcoholic

Although tepache naturally has a bit of alcohol, you might want to intentionally make yours more alcoholic. To do this you can allow your tepache to ferment for slightly longer, which will raise the alcohol content as the bacteria converts more of the sugar into alcohol. 

However, be careful not to allow your tepache to ferment for longer than 3-5 days or else it will turn into more of a pineapple vinegar than a sparkling pineapple beverage. 

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Tepache Cocktails 

Another way to make tepache more alcoholic is to simply add alcohol! Tepache makes the perfect addition to make cocktails because it is lightly flavored and carbonated. 

If you want to make a super easy tepache cocktail, you can add a splash of beer or even tequila on top of your glass of tepache and mix, as is often done in Mexico. 

If you’re looking to get a bit experimental, you can try making some of our tepache and tequila cocktails, which are sure to spice up any Taco Tuesday. For the most part, our cocktail recipes call for a base tepache, tequila, and agave syrup, so it’s a good idea to have all three on hand.

Health Benefits of Tepache 

Unlike other alcoholic beverages which can leave you with a headache and upset stomach after consumption, tepache actually has several health benefits. Given that it is made from pineapple, tepache is a great source of vitamin C and other important nutrients such as manganese. Vitamin C is of course famous for being a vital immune system supporter. 

Due to the fermentation process, tepache is also a natural probiotic. Probiotics are bacteria that help the naturally occurring, “good” bacteria in your gut to fight off illness and digest food. 

For this reason, tepache can give both your digestive and immune systems boosts to keep your body functioning well. It can also be a good idea to drink tepache when you’re experiencing stomach disturbances such as diarrhea and constipation

Conclusion 

Although tepache contains alcohol, it is more similar to kombucha than other alcoholic beverages. For this reason, it makes a great substitute to unhealthy, carbonated beverages such as soda. 

If you want to make tepache more alcoholic, you can slightly alter the fermentation process or mix it with truly alcoholic beverages to make delicious, refreshing cocktails. Unlike most alcoholic beverages, tepache has several health benefits that will leave you feeling hydrated and energized!

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Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/kombucha-alcohol-content

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-for-constipation#bottom-line

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