Mayan sacred drinks: Pozol & Tepache

If you’ve seen carts with people that blow a horn that whistles, and they are carrying two big pots of white, brown or darkish yellow substances, you’ve probably come across pozol and/or tepache.


Since pre-Hispanic times, the Mayans made a cocoa and corn-based drink that they called “buk’a” or “pochotl”, which was highly appreciated among the ancient inhabitants of these lands for being a nutrient of resistance for the indigenous travelers. They knew of its importance because it fed and quenched thirst in these hot areas and lasted without spoiling. The inscriptions on some Mayan vases from 400 AD. discovered in Tabasco, clearly indicating their function as “cups of cocoa and corn dough”.

Today, it is still consumed and very popular in southern Mexico, especially in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco, where it is the traditional and original drink. Thanks to trade routes, its consumption spread to other places in the south of what is now Mexico and part of Central America, particularly in indigenous communities.


Tepache is a fermented beverage made from the peel and the rind of pineapples, and is sweetened either with piloncillo or brown sugar, seasoned with powdered cinnamon, and served cold. Though tepache is fermented for several days, the resulting drink does not contain much alcohol.

Its taste is reminiscent of beer, but it is sweet. The word tepache comes from the Nahuatl tepiatl (corn drink), which is a conjunction of the words tepitl (tender corn) and atl (water). The custom of making this drink with corn continues in several communities, especially indigenous people in Mexico, where with a higher alcohol level, it was used for the religious ceremonies.

Tepache is more commonly obtained by the fermentation of the juice and pulp of various types of sweet fruits such as pineapple, guava, apple, tuna or orange. Depending on how sugary the mixture is, if it is left to ferment for more days, a drink with a higher alcohol level is obtained, but also with greater bitterness and acidity in its taste.

Have you tried either of these? Do you want to?