What Is Tepache and What Are the Benefits?

If you love the taste of tepache but don’t know about its health benefits, have heard of this delicious drink but have never tried it, or have never even seen the word “tepache” before, don’t worry! This article will answer two important questions: what is tepache and what are the benefits of drinking it? 

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Tepache Overview 

Tepache is a traditional Mexican beverage that is often sold on the street and enjoyed as a cool, refreshing drink during the day. For this reason, tepache is an important part of Mexican street cuisine. Like kombucha and other probiotic beverages, tepache is a fermented drink. Tepache is made from the fermented rinds and cores of pineapples. Although several variations of the tepache recipe exist, it is usually flavored with cinnamon and panela, a raw cane sugar popular in Central and South American cuisine. 

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Flavor and Appearance

Tepache has a light orange or beige color that can vary depending on the spices and fruits used to flavor a particular batch. Due to the fermentation process, tepache is carbonated and has a texture similar to that of soda or beer. Unlike other fermented beverages such as kombucha, tepache has a light, sweet flavor with a distinctive pineapple aftertaste. That being said, the impressive variation in the type of tepache available means that there is no one standard flavor. 

Origins of Tepache

The exact origins of tepache are unknown because this drink dates back to the pre-Columbian period. It never underwent standardization and taxation by the Spanish, as many native foods and drinks did during colonization. Given that the tepache recipe was never standardized, several variations of the recipe evolved as it was orally passed down from generation to generation. 

It is thought that tepache was first made by either the Nahua people or the Maya people and used as a sacred drink with different aromatics added depending on the intended use. The word “tepache” comes from the Nahuatl word tepiātl. The word tepiātl translates to “crushed corn drink” and points to the early variations of tepache that were made primarily from corn and only flavored with pineapple, seeing as pineapple was a valuable and rare food at one point. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Tepache

Now that you know the basic information about tepache, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions people have about this traditional Mexican beverage. 

Is Tepache Alcoholic? 

Although tepache is technically alcoholic, there is only a very small amount of alcohol in tepache due to the fermentation process. Fermentation breaks the natural sugars in tepache down into alcohol and carbon dioxide. For this reason, most fermented beverages contain a small amount of alcohol. 

Two factors determine the alcohol content of tepache: time and climate. Usually, fermentation for longer in a warm climate results in a tepache with a higher ABV. In the United States, a beverage has to contain 0.5% alcohol or less to be considered “non-alcoholic.”

That being said, tepache is often paired with tequila to make delicious cocktails. It can also be mixed with beer to give your favorite beverages a tropical pineapple twist!

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What’s the Difference Between Tepache and Kombucha?

There are a few important differences that set tepache apart from kombucha. Usually, tepache is made with less sugar than kombucha because the natural flavor of pineapple gives it a light, sweet taste. Also, tepache is naturally far less sour than kombucha, so less sugar is needed to soften the taste. 

There are also usually more additives in kombucha than in tepache. This is because kombucha is made from tea, so it does not naturally have a fruity or spicy flavor. Tepache, on the other hand, is naturally flavored by the pineapple, so less needs to be added to it to give it a citrusy, delicious taste! However, given that both are probiotic drinks, they offer some of the same incredible health benefits. 

How Is Tepache Made?

Tepache is one of the easiest fermented drinks to make at home. Unlike other fermented drinks, you do not need a bacterial SCOBY or any unusual ingredients to brew your own tepache. All you need to make tepache at home is pineapple, water, cinnamon, sugar, and a container large enough to hold your tepache while it ferments. If you want to try flavoring your tepache, then you’ll also need whatever spices or fruits you want to add. 

Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, all you need to do is mix them all together (making sure to only use the pineapple rinds and core), and wait 1-3 days for the fermentation process to occur. You can try your tepache every 12 hours or so to make sure it ferments to your liking. 

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Health Benefits of Tepache 

Alongside being incredibly easy to brew at home, tepache also has several wonderful health benefits!

Probiotic and Prebiotic Properties 

Tepache has both prebiotic and probiotic properties, which makes it the perfect drink to give your digestive system a boost and help you maintain a healthy bacterial equilibrium in your gut. You might be used to thinking about bacteria as a bad thing because it can cause infection and disease. While it’s true that some bacteria are “bad,” there are “good” bacteria that your body needs to stay healthy. 

The “good” bacteria in your gut allows your body to fight off bacteria that might cause infection. However, antibiotics and illness can greatly reduce the amount of “good” bacteria in your gut. For this reason, it’s important to consume probiotic bacteria in your diet in the form of tepache or other fermented foods.

Alongside probiotic bacteria, it’s also important to consume prebiotics. Prebiotics are the “food” for probiotic bacteria. Given that the bacteria living in your gut are living organisms, they need fuel to survive just like you do. For this reason, foods and drinks that have both probiotic and prebiotic qualities are great because they provide the bacteria you need for a healthy gut and the fuel that bacteria need to stay alive. 

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Boosts Your Immune System 

Given that there’s a strong relationship between digestive health and immune response, the probiotic bacteria in tepache that helps keep your gut healthy also helps you fight off illness and strengthen your immune system. Tepache is also full of vitamins and nutrients that help boost your immune system. Tepache naturally contains lots of vitamin C, one of the most important vitamins in maintaining a healthy immune system.

Low in Sugar 

As we mentioned before, unlike naturally bitter probiotic drinks such as kombucha, tepache naturally has a light, sweet flavor. Most of the sweet taste of tepache either comes from the pineapple or the fruits used to add flavors such as apples, mango, and oranges. It is significant that tepache is low in sugar because high rates of sugar consumption can lead to obesity, heart disease, and several other health conditions. 

Great Replacement for Soda 

Given that tepache is naturally sweet and carbonated, it makes a great replacement for soda. Unlike tepache, soda is full of added sugar and preservatives that are unhealthy, especially for kids. Tepache is a great alternative because it is flavored naturally and can give your digestive and immune systems a boost!

Conclusion 

Tepache is a delicious, traditional Mexican beverage made from fermented pineapple rinds. Spices and fruits are used to flavor tepache, giving it a light, citrusy flavor and carbonated texture. Luckily, with tepache, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to take advantage of all of its amazing health benefits!

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Sources:

Probiotics: What You Need To Know | NCCIH (nih.gov)

The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease | NCBI

Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis | NCBI

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