Tejuino: The Refreshing Corn Beverage of Mexico



In the bustling markets and vibrant streets of Mexican towns, you might stumble upon a drink that captures the essence of tradition and refreshment: tejuino. This cold, fermented beverage, made from corn, is a staple in several Mexican states, including Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, and Oaxaca. Despite its simplicity, tejuino offers a complex flavor profile that delights the senses and provides a unique glimpse into Mexico’s rich culinary heritage. Whether sold by street vendors or found in Mexican juice bars in the United States, tejuino is a drink worth discovering.

The Origins of Tejuino

Tejuino has deep roots in Mexican culture, particularly in the state of Jalisco, where it is most commonly associated. However, its popularity extends to other regions like Colima, Nayarit, and Oaxaca. The origins of tejuino can be traced back to pre-Hispanic times, where corn was not just a dietary staple but also held cultural and spiritual significance. Tejuino was traditionally consumed during religious ceremonies and communal gatherings, reflecting its integral role in social and cultural rituals.

Making Tejuino: An Art and a Science

Ingredients and Preparation

The primary ingredient in tejuino is corn dough, known as masa, which is the same dough used for making tortillas and tamales. Here’s a step-by-step look at how this traditional drink is prepared:

  1. Mixing the Dough: Corn dough is mixed with water and piloncillo, which is unrefined cane sugar shaped into small cones. This mixture is crucial for adding sweetness and depth to the flavor of tejuino.
  2. Boiling the Mixture: The mixture is then boiled until it reaches a thick consistency. This process helps to break down the corn and integrates the flavors of the piloncillo.
  3. Fermentation: After boiling, the mixture is allowed to ferment slightly. This fermentation is what gives tejuino its distinct tangy taste. The fermentation process is relatively short, ensuring the drink remains refreshing rather than alcoholic.
  4. Serving: Tejuino is typically served cold. Vendors often add lime juice, a pinch of salt, and a scoop of shaved ice or lime sorbet to enhance its refreshing qualities. The result is a slightly tangy, sweet, and utterly refreshing drink perfect for hot weather.

The Unique Taste of Tejuino

Tejuino’s flavor is a harmonious blend of sweetness from the piloncillo, the earthiness of corn, the tang of lime juice, and a hint of saltiness. This combination creates a unique taste experience that is both familiar and novel. The slight fermentation adds a subtle complexity to the drink, making it not just a thirst quencher but also a delightful culinary experience.

Tejuino in Mexican Culture

A Social Beverage

In Mexico, tejuino is more than just a drink; it is a social experience. It is commonly sold by street vendors who prepare it fresh, often in front of customers, adding to the charm and authenticity of the experience. The vendors typically serve tejuino in small plastic cups or in plastic bags tied around a straw, making it easy to enjoy on the go. This accessibility and convenience have helped tejuino maintain its popularity over the years.

Regional Variations

While tejuino is most strongly associated with Jalisco, regional variations exist that reflect local tastes and traditions. In Colima, for example, tejuino might be served with a bit more lime juice or an extra scoop of shaved ice, while in Oaxaca, the preparation might involve slight differences in the fermentation process or the type of corn used. These regional twists add to the rich tapestry of tejuino’s history and cultural significance.

Tejuino in the United States

Growing Popularity

Tejuino has crossed borders and can now be found in Mexican American communities across the Southwestern United States. Mexican juice bars, known as “juguerías,” often feature tejuino on their menus, introducing this traditional drink to a broader audience. The growing popularity of tejuino in the United States reflects a broader trend of interest in authentic and traditional Mexican beverages.

A Taste of Home

For many Mexican Americans, tejuino is a nostalgic reminder of home and heritage. Its presence in U.S. juice bars and at cultural festivals helps maintain a connection to Mexican traditions and provides an opportunity to share this unique beverage with new generations and diverse communities.

The Health Benefits of Tejuino

Nutritional Value

Tejuino is not just refreshing but also offers some nutritional benefits. The corn dough used in tejuino is a good source of carbohydrates, providing energy. Additionally, the fermentation process, although brief, can contribute to the presence of beneficial probiotics that aid digestion.

Hydration and Refreshment

Tejuino is particularly valued for its hydrating properties. The combination of water, natural sugars from piloncillo, and the added lime juice makes it an excellent choice for staying hydrated in hot weather. The salt added to tejuino can also help with electrolyte balance, making it a functional beverage for those needing to stay refreshed and energized.

How to Make Tejuino at Home


  • 2 cups of corn dough (masa)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 cup of piloncillo (or brown sugar as a substitute)
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • Shaved ice or lime sorbet


  1. Mix the Dough: In a large pot, dissolve the corn dough in 6 cups of water, stirring until smooth.
  2. Add Piloncillo: Add the piloncillo to the mixture and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir continuously to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pot.
  3. Boil Until Thick: Continue to boil until the mixture thickens, which should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  4. Ferment: Once the mixture has cooled, cover the pot with a cloth and let it sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours to ferment slightly. The longer it ferments, the tangier it will become.
  5. Serve: To serve, pour the tejuino into a glass, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt, and top with shaved ice or a scoop of lime sorbet. Stir well and enjoy!

Exploring Other Traditional Mexican Beverages


Tejuin’o is often enjoyed alongside other traditional Mexican fermented beverages like tepache. Tepache is made from pineapple peels, brown sugar, and spices, and is also slightly fermented. It has a sweet and tangy flavor, similar to tejuino but with a distinct pineapple twist.


Another corn-based beverage is atole, which is typically served hot and thickened with masa. Unlike tejuino, atole is not fermented and is often flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, or chocolate. It’s a popular drink during Mexican holidays and is usually enjoyed as a breakfast beverage.


Tejuin’o is a fascinating and delicious part of Mexico’s culinary heritage. Its unique preparation, refreshing taste, and cultural significance make it a drink worth discovering. Whether you find it on the streets of Jalisco or in a juice bar in Los Angeles, tejuin’o offers a unique taste experience that connects you to a rich tradition. So next time you come across this delightful beverage, take a sip and savor the flavors of history, culture, and refreshment.

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