The Ecuadorian horchata is a drink that is unique in the world. This delightful fusion of aromatic and medicinal herbs is native to the Andean highlands of Ecuador.
It is produced in small home garden plots and it is customary to drink it hot for relaxing and digestive purposes or cold as a refresher, hydrating or accompanying a meal.
It can contain up to 28 different species of plants including flowers and barks.
Horchata is mainly produced, prepare and sold by women, which are known as “Horchateras”. They cultivate the herbs themselves in small home gardens known as “chacras” and then sell them, either as beverage or as herbal blend “bunch” to be prepared. Since plants are grown in small home gardens following environmental sustainable farming practices, this no chemicals are needed. That is why in previous years Pachamanta Horchata Tea was able to get an Organic certification.
Women are the ancestral keepers of the wisdom embedded in the management of medicinal plants, which traverses oral history between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces, and among other filial bonds related to the female line. Because of its historical use, “horchata” could become a patrimonial heritage.
Horchata herbal content may differ depending of family recipes and seasonal herbs. The blend is composed by Leaves (23%), followed by flowers (22%), branches (14%), entire plants without roots (12%), and petals (5%).
From the range of 71 medicinal plant species sold to prepare the “horchata” drink, 38 are introduced, 29 are native and 3 are endemic. Of the 29 native to Ecuador, 45% are cultivated in homegardens, 35% are harvested from mountain forest, cloud forest, and Andean paramo, while the remaining 20% can be found at any of the aforementioned habitats.
In the case of Horchata herbs, The 66% of medicinal plant species are used as anti-inflammatories, 51% as analgesics, 42% as diuretics, and between 28 and 37% as sedatives, tonics, digestives, hepatics and palliatives for stomachache.