Who invented the Horchata? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Beverages are part of our daily routines. They symbolize break times, and drinking gives us time to breathe and relax. However, it’s easy for us to get bored of our usual black coffee or signature frappes. There are instances when doctors ask us to cut off soda or beer for our health. It can be disheartening only to drink water the whole day. Well, worry no more. Horchata might be the drink you are looking for. 

Horchata is a healthy and yummy alternative to your regular drink. It tastes creamy, sweet, and milky like liquid rice pudding. Horchata is the perfect way to quench your thirst. Aside from its rich taste, it also has a flavorful history. This article will trace the origin of Horchata and the story of why it is called “the drink of the gods.”

Who invented the Horchata?

The Romans invented the first version of Horchata, a simple drink made of barley. They used it for medicinal purposes because of its cooling and soothing properties.

The Horchata’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Ancient Physicians
    Medical Elixir

    For the ancient Romans, Horchata was not just an ordinary beverage. Instead, the Romans used Horchata or “barley water: as a medical elixir. Ancient physicians like Hippocrates believed that barley water has cooling properties that can heal fever. This medical elixir that ancient people drank will be known as the first ever version of Horchata.

  • The Moors
    Horchata de Chufa

    The recipe for Horchata became more interesting when the Moors introduced tiger nuts or chufa in Spain. This new recipe became famous for its energy-giving and health benefits.

  • King James I of Spain
    This is gold!

    Legend has it that King James I of Spain expressed his love for Horchata when a young servant girl prepared it for him. He shouted, “Aixo es or, xata!” which translates to “This is a liquid gold, beautiful girl!” According to stories, King James I also named the drink “Horchata.”

  • Hispano-Arabs
    Chufa Milk

    Hispano-Arabs, who lived in Spain in 1324, also loved Horchata. However, their version is an aromatic mixture of soaked and grounded tiger nuts, cinnamon, lemon, and sugar. They called it llet de xufes or chufa milk.

  • Spanish Conquerors
    A Taste of Home

    As the Spanish conquered different places in Mexico, they missed having a refreshing sip of Horchata. Unfortunately, they couldn’t bring tiger nuts but bought sugarcane, rice, and cinnamon. So they made a new recipe for Horchata using rice as the main ingredient.

  • Mexicans
    The Starting Point

    The Mexicans embraced Horchata as part of their culture. They made it with cinnamon, sugar, rice, coconut, oat, and different seeds. From there, the recipe spreads to other countries. They made countless versions and used various ingredients.

When was the first Horchata invented?

The Romans used the first version of Horchata or barley water as a medical elixir in the 14th century. Many civilizations that followed the Romans also believed that Horchata had healing properties.

A brief history of Horchata

One of the oldest cereals cultivated by man is barley. So, it comes with no surprise that the so-called “ancestor of drinks” is made of barley. Horchata is now known as a sweet and creamy drink. Perfect refreshment for a hot summer day. However, this simple drink has a fascinating story.

It started in the 14th century with the ancient Romans. However, they did not use Horchata as a refreshment but as a medical elixir. The term “Horchata” actually came from the Latin words “hordeum” or barley and “hordeata” or water with barley. So, they believed boiling barley with water could heal several illnesses. Hippocrates (a Greek physician), Cato the Elder (a Roman author), and Anthimus (a Byzantine physician) were some of the noted people who also believed in the cooling and soothing properties of barley and water concoction. This healing elixir is known as the first recorded version of Horchata.

Horchata’s reputation as an elixir was passed from generation to generation. During the time of the Moors in Spain (around 711 to 1492), they introduced chufa or tiger nut. This nut-like tuber was a crucial ingredient in a new version of Horchata. They called it Horchata de chufa. This version is healthier, more aromatic, and energy-giving. The popularity of this drink spread through Spain until it reached their King.

Legend has it that King James I of Spain fancied Horchata. A young servant girl prepared the first cup that he tasted. After that, stories spread across the country that King James I called the drink “liquid gold.” The drink was believed to be a mixture of sugar, lemon, cinnamon, and soaked and grounded tiger nuts. Although this is just a legend, many scholars believe that this story is one of the main reasons Horchata gained popularity. 

Around the early 1500s, Spain conquered some parts of Mexico. As the people of Spain stayed there, they missed drinking Horchata. So, the Spanish conquistadors decided to bring the ingredients to Mexico. They successfully transported sugarcane, cinnamon, and rice. Sadly, they failed to bring tiger nuts. So, they made a new version of Horchata. It is still similar to the “liquid gold” they loved, but it is made mainly of rice. Through time, the Mexicans came up with their traditional recipe: a mixture of rice, sugar, coconut, oatmeal, cinnamon, and some seeds.

Scholars believe that after Mexico, Horchata became known in different countries. Each place has unique versions of Horchata. For example, Venezuelans and Puerto Ricans add sesame seeds to their Horchatas. In Ecuador, they use herbs and flowers instead of nuts. Modern-day Horchata is now more flavorful, tastier, and complex. However, their formulas are still closely similar to the original version.

The Horchata timeline

  1. 14th Century
    It was Magic

    In the 16th century, physicians, botanists, and other experts believed that barley and water concoctions had healing and cooling power. It’s like a magical solution to speed up recovery and regenerate health and energy.

  2. 1300’s
    Good Enough for the King

    There’s a legend about King James I of Spain who fell in love with the warm taste of Horchata. He described it as liquid gold. People believed that this story contributed to the popularity of Horchata.

  3. 1500’s
    It landed in Mexico

    Spanish conquerors brought the recipes for Horchata to Mexico. They made Horchata from rice since they couldn’t get tiger nuts to Mexico. Nevertheless, they still enjoyed sipping this drink that reminded them of their homeland.

  4. Modern Day
    Different Versions

    After it arrived in Mexico, many traders found out about Horchata. People around the world created their versions. Some added sesame seeds, others used flowers, while some liked it with herbs. They localized the drink based on the ingredients present in their regions.

Where was the first Horchata invented?

The first known version of Horchata was made in Rome in the 14th century. 

The importance of the Horchata

  • Anyone can drink!

    Everyone can drink Horchata because it is free from lactose, gluten, and casein. It is also a big help for an upset stomach.

  • Can keep the doctor away

    Because Horchata is exceptionally healthy, drinking it will improve your health and metabolism. It can benefit people suffering from heart disease and diabetes by reducing inflammation. A cup of Horchata can keep the doctor away! 

  • Keeps you hydrated

    Horchata is a very versatile drink. People can enjoy it as a warm beverage on a cold winter night or a refreshing drink on a hot summer day. You can drink it any time of the day. It’s an excellent way to stay hydrated. 

  • For glowing skin

    Horchata contains high levels of antioxidants. This will give you a youthful glow. Plus, its ingredients are organic, which is healthy for your skin. 

The Horchata by the numbers

  • 8-10A batch of Horchata will last up to 8-10 days, provided it is kept in the refrigerator and remains chilled because it contains milk.
  • 7You can enjoy your homemade Horchata with seven magical ingredients. All you need is long white rice, sliced almonds, cinnamon sticks, cold water, granulated sugar, vanilla, and whole milk. 
  • 3Making Horchata requires patience. You have to let the rice and cinnamon sticks soak in water for three days to achieve the best result.
  • 60-100It is a favorite drink after a tiring day or an extraneous workout because of its health benefits and low fats and calories. A 100 gram of Horchata contains 60-100 cal.

Five facts about the Horchata

  • Good for sex?

    Many foods, like chocolate and oyster, are aphrodisiacs, which can boost your sex drive. One of those is a warm cup of Horchata. 

  • Always the original

    A lot of food and drink are evolving in their recipe and the way they are prepared, but not Horchata. People only localized some ingredients, but the procedure and main formula remain the same.

  • Even the Egyptians like it

    Some people believe that Egyptians used to drink Horchata because the archaeologists found some cups with tiger nuts, one of the main ingredients of Horchata, besides their wrapped linens. 

  • Good for your eyesight

    Recent studies have shown the positive effects of tiger nuts on human eyes. So, a cup of Horchata can keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy.

  • Drink of the gods

    Horchata is called the drink of the gods. It gained this nickname because it is incredibly healthy and has low sodium and fats. Plus, it is super yummy.

FAQ about the Horchata

  • What is Horchata made of?

    Horchata is a sweet drink made of white rice and cinnamon sticks soaked overnight. Some people like to add vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon powder. 

  •  Is Horchata healthy?

    A resounding yes. If you are a health buff, Horchata is your best option. Aside from being refreshing, it is also rich in vitamin C and E and contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. 

  • Why does Horchata taste good?

    Horchata is made of different local spices; that’s why it is flavorful. In addition, its creamy and soft nature makes it refreshing.

  • What does Horchata do to your body?

    Drinking Horchata has a lot of health benefits. It is rich in vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It reduces inflammation in your body that can cause diseases. In addition, it makes your skin glow and keeps your eyes healthy.

  • When should I drink Horchata?

    You can drink Horchata any time of the year. But the best time to have it is during summer or the hot season. A refreshing glass of Horchata can help you stay hydrated. 

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