Just what is Horchata?

A bike ride around Valencia is an enjoyable and environmentally friendly way to take in this beautiful Mediterranean city. Among the city’s many attractions you will see a wealth of ice-cream parlours and also many horchaterias selling the famous Valencian product, horchata.

But what exactly is horchata and where does it come from?

Walk into an horchateria and order an horchata. What you will receive is a sweet, creamy coloured drink, not unlike a milkshake. 

Horchata, drunk by Valencians for centuries, is actually a drink made from the chufa plant or tigernut, a tuber crop grown specifically to make the drink in the Huerta del Norte, or northern farmland.

Although widely known is Spain as a Valencian drink, archaeologists discovered that in Ancient Egypt, pharaohs were buried with tigernuts to take with them to the afterlife.

Tigernuts have excellent nutritional qualities, with a fat composition similar to olives and a rich mineral content, especially phosphorus and potassium. The Persians and the Arabs used is as a medicinal drink, considering it to be a diuretic and an energy giver.

Chufas and Horchata were brought to Spain by the Moors when they came in the eighth century. Nowadays horchata is widely consumed in Valencia and it is usually accompanied by fartons (a dough-based sugary snack). The Huerta del Norte contains many fields of chufa and it is here where production takes place. Some of the producers also have an horchateria on their land, where you can stop by, park your bike and enjoy a homemade glass in the sun, as the breeze blows through the surrounding fields.

Now you know what it is, why not give it a try? Join us on the next BikeAlao  guided Horchata bike tour of the Huerta del Norte and take in the old farmhouses and fields before settling down to a glass of horchata.

woman drinking horchata out of a large glass
Valencian Horchata - it is not a milkshake


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