What Happens When You Drink Tepache in Mexico

What Happens When You Drink Tepache in Mexico

By |2016-07-21T23:46:43-05:00March 14th, 2013|Mexico|55 Comments

Drink Tepache
This is what happens when you let your friends drink tepache.

Some people really like it…

Drinking Tepache

Drinking Tepache

Some people are not so sure how to react…

Drinking Tepache

Drinking Tepache

Some take the drink quite seriously…

Drinking Tepache

Drinking Tepache

Drinking Tepache

Others need to be fed the stuff…

Drinking Tepache

Some find the taste quite pleasant…

Drinking Tepache

Some people even look quite bad-ass drinking it…

Drinking Tepache

And a rare few seem to be in excruciating pain while the drink goes down…

Drinking Tepache

Tepache is a simple Aztec creation (at least in this part of the world) made from the fruity flesh and the rinds of pineapples that are mixed with brown sugar and left to ferment for a few days. But since the fermentation time is so short, it doesn’t quite turn into alcohol and it ends up leaving behind what can only be described as an interesting taste.

You can buy this drink from street vendors who ride their bicycle carts around towns and cities all over Mexico. You just flag them down, place your order and then the vendor uses a ladle to scoop up the tepache from a big barrel or bucket and places it into a plastic bag. It typically costs 5 pesos (40 US cents) for a couple of scoops.

And just about everyone on my current Wander Across Mexico Tour all had a swig or two, or in some cases, nineteen, of this stuff yesterday while we were walking around the beautiful town of Valladolid. I just couldn’t let the vendor roll by without giving everyone a chance to try it out.

So, the question is this…

If you saw a guy pedaling a rusty cart down the road trying to sell you a plastic bag full of a gooey brown liquid that has been swishing around in a bucket, would you stop him and order some of his intriguing drink?

Or would you gladly step aside and watch him keep on pedaling down the road, perfectly content to let someone else try the mysterious beverage?

Let’s see how adventurous you are!


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55 Comments

  1. Kathy Suchocki February 21, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    A recent stop in Vallalodid and who could resist the wrinkled man pedaling a cart with an interesting looking barrel inside. I liked it very much!! When in Rome you know! I’m finishing it right now and decided to look up what I am drinking. Lol!

    • Derek February 26, 2018 at 10:36 am - Reply

      Hey Kathy – Ha, glad you enjoyed it! It’s a unique concoction that’s for sure, but well worth trying as you discovered!

  2. Dave March 27, 2016 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Tepache is a sweet exceptional drink, with a very, very mild fermented taste, but it’s not alcoholic. Children can drink it. It’s far better served cold. Some people may find it an acquired taste.
    The traveler was probably deep south in Mexico. In northern states tepache is sold in plastic cups, not bags.

    • Lo May 23, 2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      I’m from a border town in the Northern part of Mexico and we always drink our Tepache in plastic bags NEVER in plastic cups 🙂

      • Deevena September 23, 2017 at 2:03 am - Reply

        Hello,
        I am doing a study on Tepache and i was wondering if someone could give me information about Tepache. Grandmother’s ideas or any health benefits that you know of..Basically anything related to Tepache.
        Thank you.

        • Amanda Maida November 2, 2017 at 3:49 am - Reply

          Hello,
          I was told that tepache, has been known to cleans kidney’s and remove kidney stone. If made plain, without any type of sweeteners, cloves or cinnamon, just put a few extra pieces of pineapple chunks with the rind. it should give it more flavor, like a pineapple champagne. It is like a natural antibiotic, with silica, which is said to help remove the kidney stones. Also, due to the natural sugars, that causes it to ferment, it will act as a natural pain killer, for the pain caused by the kidney infection and the kidney stones.
          I was told that I had cluster of kidney stones, I needed surgery to remove them. My friend made me some tepache, I was told to drink it up, the whole half gallon. It flushed out the stones. When I went in for my surgery, in the recovery room, the doctor said, miraculous;y, there was not one stone, and that just in case , he left a J stint in. Since then I have been drinking tepache regularly, and have had no problems.

        • Ricardo Rodriguez September 1, 2019 at 2:33 pm - Reply

          I make tepache out of any fruit: banana, pineapple, guava, mango, etc. The receipt is the same. Place chunks of the fruit in a glass jar or pitcher, add brown sugar to taste, you may adjust after fermented, little ground cinnamon and filter water, about 1 ltr x banana. Cover with lid or cloth and leave at room tempeture for 3-5 days. Filter, adjust sugar to taste and ready to drink cold. Storage in refrigerator x up to 2 weeks. Lots of naturally occurring probiotics with all its health benefits, especially for digestion.

  3. Kym January 9, 2016 at 6:01 am - Reply

    I LOVE Tepache!! I make it but I don’t use spices and I often use pure icing sugar instead of dark lol. I also 2nd ferment it in air tight bottles for a couple of days after the initial 3 day ferment. The good yeast that grows in the 1st ferment eats the sugar in the 2nd ferment and turns it slightly alco and really fizzy. I love my fermented goods… I also make kombucha (China), milk kefir (not sure of origin), sauerkraut (European/Polish) and tempeh (Indonesian). There really are so many fermented foods out there, what’s the most unusual type you’ve tried and from where?

    I would totally be game… the minute they say fermented, I’m in!

  4. jose February 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    When I used to live in Mexico I would sometimes get beer in a bag because I didn’t have enoguh to pay the “importe” for the bottle which is a bottle deposit. hahaa

  5. […] what people think about drinking Tepache?  Love this post and photos by Wandering […]

  6. Jam @icoSnap March 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Plastic bag + fermented fruit drink, seems legit. I have yet to try it seems like a very interesting drink.

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Hey Jam – Absolutely legit…I’d be more worried if it came in a glass.

  7. Stephen S. March 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    I want to say I would buy it, but I’ve haven’t been put to the test. Yet!

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Stephen – When the time comes, let me know what you end up doing!

  8. cindy singer March 15, 2013 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I heard from quite a few people that the food being sold by the street vendors in Bangkok was supposed to be the best, so I was looking forward to trying it. But after seeing the flies swarming around the food, I just couldn’t bring myself to try any. So, I guess I’m not adventurous as I thought and probably wouldn’t try the tepache. I will, however, keep an open mind since one of my goals for my upcoming travels is to try new foods, but, really, brown liquid in a plastic bag! I just don’t know!

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Cindy – That’s a shame…not sure where you were looking for street food in Bangkok but it is usually quite clean and fly-free. Must have just found the wrong collection of vendors unfortunately.

  9. Sofie March 15, 2013 at 7:02 am - Reply

    I would definitely like a try! But I wonder if I’d recognize it’s a drink he’s selling 😀
    I’d probably won’t know until I saw someone else buy some first

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Hey Sofie – Good point. If you just saw him pedaling down the road you would never know it’s a drink at all.

  10. Anne March 15, 2013 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Sorry, ain’t no way! I do admire how brave you are though!

  11. [email protected] March 15, 2013 at 3:29 am - Reply

    I would have to try it although my guess is that it would be too sweet for me. Also, I imagine that I’d like it more if the fermentation time were a lot longer.

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Hey Mike – You can always add something into the mix!

      • Margaret Chiffriller October 16, 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

        I make it all the time. A friend taught me how after he noticed I kept forgetting to eat the pineapples I left to ripen. It’s delicious. Friends are constantly asking for a bottle! One of them says it mixes really well with vodka 🙂 The norm is ice and water if you are somewhere that ice and water are available.

  12. ourjourneytothesea March 15, 2013 at 2:41 am - Reply

    I’d have to try it. I’ve drunk mud (kava) before after all… My question to you is… Can you add alcohol?? I don’t know why but in imagining punch. Not that punch is brown.

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      @ourjourneytothesea – You can add anything you want although the guy on the cart didn’t have any alcohol to add. In some bars/cafes, you can actually buy Tepache that is mixed with a little beer. Apparently it’s quite tasty as well.

  13. Karen March 15, 2013 at 2:16 am - Reply

    I LOVE trying out all the weird an wonderful looking drinks and food when I’m travelling – it’s one of my favourite aspects of travel.

    I haven’t been to Mexico yet but tepache will be on my ‘to drink’ list’. 🙂

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Hey Karen – It deserves to be there and when you get to Mexico, make sure you look for the version that is mixed with a little beer.

  14. Janet Wehrer March 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Sorry, there is no way I would drink something brown and unknown (I don’t speak Spanish) out of a bag!! I know, it is my loss. I admire how brave all of you are.

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Hey Janet – Nothing wrong with that…it is suspicious looking so I can understand anyone’s hesitation.

  15. Carmen March 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    I think Tepache looks and sounds delicious!
    Probably the reason Tepache did not make you sick is that fermented foods and drinks offer some of the same protection–in the form of good bacteria– to the gut as yogurt, kefir & kombucha do.
    Any of these is good protection in places where the water/food are iffy, and the cultures are easily made into edibles/drinkables. You can just carry a little bit of the culture in a small baggie, add it to milk when you reach your destination, and viola! Tummy protection for pennies.
    Several years ago I visited Mexico City and each morning, a friend had me drink a delicious strawberry flavored kefir-like drink (called Bulgaris) that she’d made.
    It was delicious and I never got sick once, despite using ice made from tap water, brushing my teeth with tap H20, and eating street food.

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      Hey Carmen – That definitely makes sense although, Mexico is much safer, in terms of water and food, than most people think. Our entire group has been eating street food and drinking anything they come across within incident so far!

  16. Mark Wiens March 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Yes, would by all means flag him down for a sample of his interesting beverage!

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Hey Mark – That’s what I would figure from you. Most likely you would run around town until you tracked the guy down!

  17. Michelle March 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Haha I love that it’s in a bag!
    Is it warm or cold?

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      Hey Michelle – It’s cold..not very cold, but not warm. And they serve many take away drinks here in bags…interesting way of doing it.

  18. Hannah @ Getting Stamped March 14, 2013 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    OMG we were just in Valladolid, and totally didn’t see any! Wish we would have seen it and been able to taste the interesting taste! Hopefully we come across some on our upcoming RTW trip, we have 3 months in Central America so our odds are good!

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Hannah – It’s hard to notice if you’re not looking for it. I’m curious if they serve it in Central America as well…hope you find some somewhere!

  19. Paul March 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Sounds interesting. For me it would be the locals test. If there were locals frequenting the cart then I’d be all for having a shot. If everyone was bypassing him, maybe not 😉

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Paul – That is a good test. Here in Valladolid it is so small that pretty much any vendor could only survive if they sold something that people definitely would buy. So that worked out well for us!

  20. Deniz March 14, 2013 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Hahah, Anil’s face kills me…all the time. :))

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      Hey Deniz – Haha…I can see that happening.

      • Anil March 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm - Reply

        It’s not easy being me.

  21. Owen Lipsett March 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Great captions! What’s particularly clever is that you never actually do say what it tastes like and a quick search reveals that you really do have to try it yourself.

    I also found this detailed explanation for anyone who wants to make it at home, although it definitely lacks the added thrill of being dispensed from a bucket into a plastic bag!

    https://anyportinastorm.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=recipes&action=print&thread=5074

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      Hey Owen – Every single one of us described the taste completely differently!

  22. Steve C March 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I wonder how you came across this drink when you had it for the first time. Were you adventurous and just bought some and tasted it? Or, did you have someone explain it to you first.

    In my many many trips to Mexico, I’ve never had the opportunity of tasting this drink simply because I never had it introduced to me. I like to try new things, but I probably would pass on this for the bad water/ice issue. As it’s fermented, that probably wouldn’t be an issue, as it’s already gone bad, in a good way. Or not.

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      Hey Steve – I was actually in this very same town with a Mexican friend and when I saw the cart go by I just asked her what he was selling. And then I was ready to try!

      As for the water/ice issue, I’ve never had a problem in Mexico. The entire group had that drink as well and not one person felt ill. The days of instant sickness from some Mexican water are over (in most parts) as they water is much more drinkable. I’ve never paid attention to stuff like that while here in the 1.5 years I’ve spent in this country and really have never had an issue.

  23. Lien March 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl, thanks for mentioning tepache, i’ve never been to Mexico so haven’t the chance yet but i guess i would want to try it out because i love pineapple in all shape and forms … the only reservation is the water/ice issue in certain country that could cause my stomach to become miserable like the time you had in India :-).

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      Hey Lien – The water/ice issue in Mexico is not nearly as bad as it was many years ago. I’ve always tried things like this in this country and never had a problem. And from what I’ve read, the water really is much more drinkable these days! (India is a different story!)

  24. Sergio Felix March 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Haha I love tepache but my girlfriend hates it.

    Have you ever tried Tejuino while you are this? It’s pretty cool as well.

    Sergio

    • Sergio Felix March 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      Sorry actually meant “while you are at* this”.

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      Hey Sergio – I haven’t tried Tejuino…is it common all over Mexico?

      • Sergio Felix March 14, 2013 at 7:01 pm - Reply

        It is really popular in Guadalajara but you can definitely find it in other locations, particularly those states in the south.

        I’m located in the north east of Mexico (Sinaloa) where it really is more difficult to find people selling Tejuino and even here I know at least three fixed spots where they sell it so you shouldn’t have any problems finding Tejuino down there if you ask for it.

        • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm - Reply

          Cool. I’ll be on the lookout as we travel through Chiapas and Oaxaca!

          • Andy March 19, 2013 at 1:22 am

            Really interested in what you think of Oaxaca cause it will probably be my next trip. Have you been before?

            -Andy

          • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm

            Hey Andy – I have been to Oaxaca and it is probably my favorite city in Mexico. If it were only near a beach I would move there in a second!

        • Karlos March 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm - Reply

          Yup, Tejuino is sold all over the place here in Guadalajara. I’ve actually never tried it however.

          Last night for dinner we had chapulines (crickets) and escamoles (ant egg) tacos.

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