Tejuino is a cold fermented drink made from corn that is popular in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Colima. Tejuino is typically made from corn dough, the same as tortillas and tamales. Mix the dough with water and piloncillo (conical unrefined cane sugar) and cook until the liquid is very thick. The liquid is then allowed to ferment slightly. The resulting drink is usually served cold, with lime juice, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of shaved ice or lime sorbet.
Although the drink is closely associated with Jalisco, it is also common in other parts of Mexico and, more recently, in Mexican-American communities in the southwestern United States. In Mexico, street vendors often sell it in small plastic cups or plastic bags tied to straws. In the United States, you can find it in Mexican juice bars.
But there’s more to Mexico than just agave. Tejuino is a non-traditional alcoholic beverage made from fermented corn masa that tastes similar to Mexican tamarind candy. Although Tejuino's exact birthplace is unknown, the drink dates back to pre-Columbian times and was produced by the indigenous Nahuas people of northwestern and central Mexico. Today, Tejuino is commonly associated with the western Mexican state of Colima, which borders the famous states of Jalisco and Michoacán.
In Jalisco, there are differences in how it is served. In Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, for example, tejuino is served without nieve de limon. In Guadalajara, Jalisco, it is often served with nieve de limon, which is left to the discretion of the buyer. Nieve de limon is a homemade lime sorbet that is often added to drinks to bring out its natural flavor.
How is it different from other drinks?
But unlike tequila and mezcal, tejuino does not require distillation and is very simple to produce. It appeals to casual drinkers due to its lower alcohol content.
The same corn masa you use to make tortillas needs to be boiled with water and sugar. Transfer the mixture to a container, cover the top with cheesecloth so it can breathe, and in two to three days, the Tejuino is out.
Typically, Mexicans use an unrefined sugar called "piloncillo" when making Tejuino. This sweetener, sometimes called "Panela," is made by boiling and collecting the evaporated sugar cane juice, then packing the sugar crystals into dark brown cones. The finished product is worth a look for its unique flavor, reminiscent of honey and molasses.
Since tejuino can only be fermented for a few days at most, the alcohol content is actually very low. There is a common misconception among Mexicans that drinking too much tejuno will make you drunk. However, this is usually due to the small amount of beer added to certain recipes rather than the alcohol content of the tejuino itself.