Horchata: a summer drink

POCAST: read and listen to this entry at the same time (you can find the Spanish text here)

Summer brings lots of heat and a desire for refreshing drinks. Horchata is one of the preferred summer drinks and in my case it has been part of many afternoon snacks in my childhood and youth during the summer months.

Horchata(1) is a plant-based drink that’s quite sweet and which has a white color. You drink it very cold and almost exclusively during the summer months. In the Region of Valencia it’s very traditional and you can have it for breakfast as well as for a coffee break(2) or for a afternoon snack(3). Or simply if you need to refresh and better stand the summer heat.

Horchata is “chufa(4) milk”, and there’s a legend(5) that tells us about how the name of this drink came into existence. Its valencian name is “orxata” and legend has it that a peasant offered this drink made from chufa to King Jaime I and he tried it. It is then said that afterwards King Jaime I said:”Aixo és or xata! (This is gold, sweetheart! / Esto es oro, chata!). And for that reason today it’s called “horchata”.

You only need three ingredients to make horchata: chufas, water and sugar. Nonetheless, the result is a special treat. Chufa is the main ingredient. It’s grown in the Region of Valencia with great quality. Chufa from Valencia is a tuber(6) that needs to be soaked and afterwards grounded in order to obtain that delicious milk. This is done since centuries.

Preparing horchata at home is not a very common thing to do because it needs quite some work and time. Furthermore, you have to drink it in a day or two, since it spoils(7) quickly. You usually drink it in an ice cream parlor or you can buy it bottled in a grocery store. Once opened, bottled horchata can be stored in the fridge for several days.

People normally drink it as a liquid or slush(8). Moreover, you can have it together with confectionery(9), especially when you have it for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. The typical confectionery to accompany horchata in the Region of Valencia are fartons (10) (fartó): confectionery sweets that are elongated, fluffy and sweet, and which are dipped into the horchata.

Now that you know what it is, the next time you visit Spain in summer and sit down in an ice cream parlor, order a horchata and try some confectionery with it. You’ll love it!


  1. Horchata: del valenciano orxata. Es una bebida de chufa que se toma fría principalmente en la época de verano. Es de color blanco y muy dulce.
  2. Coffee break: la hora del café; es el momento del día en el que se toma café u otra bebida generalmente con algún dulce o bollería. En verano se suelen tomar también bebidas frías. Suele ser después de las comidas.
  3. Afternoon snack: la hora de la merienda; tiene lugar a media tarde y es el momento del día en el que se ofrece un tentempié a los más pequeños.
  4. Chufa: tubérculo de una planta llamada juncia.
  5. Legend: leyenda; narración sobre un hecho que se transmite a lo largo del tiempo. Los hechos, aunque basados en personas o situaciones reales, no son reales.
  6. Tuber: tubérculo; parte de la raíz de una planta. Se encuentra bajo tierra. Un ejemplo de tubérculo es la patata.
  7. Spoil: ponerse malo; si hablamos de comida significa que se estropea y no se puede comer.
  8. Slush: granizado; bebida que tiene hielo a trocitos muy pequeños. Puede ser de muchos sabores: limón, naranja, etc.
  9. Confectionery: bollería; son productos dulces como bollos, magdalenas, bizcochos, croissant, etc.
  10. Fartón: del valenciano fartó. Es un producto de bollería alargado y dulce para tomar con la horchata.

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