Strawberry Chia Fresca with Peruvian Black Mint is a fruity, minty twist to the traditional iskiate, that refreshing, tangy and energising drink synonymous with the running tribe of Mexico, the Tarahumara.
I was introduced to this delightful drink by Shawn, a friend of mine in the US, not too long ago. He did a post on Foodies+ on Facebook, a food community that I run, with the help of a few good friends from the old Google+.
I’m always looking for new ways with chia seeds; one kind of gets tired with having them the same old way: in smoothies, over pasta and as porridge. So I just knew I was going to be making chia fresca as soon as I saw it. In fact, I made it on the very same day!
And I’ve been making it almost every day since!
What is Chia Fresca?
Chia Fresca, is, simply put, chia seeds mixed with water. In Spanish, the word “fresca” means fresh, along the same lines of aguas frescas, those flavoured drinks found in many parts of South America (although they’re not called the same thing everywhere).
So if you want a translation, it basically means “fresh chia (drink)”.
Chia seeds have been consumed in various ways in pre Columbian Mesoamerica (before Columbus arrived in the Americas). They made up a huge part of the diet of the people in the region.
If you do an online search for Chia Fresca, you will definitely come across a reference to the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico. Known as the running tribe because of their running stamina, these folks depend on chia fresca for sustaining them over long distances, just like the Aztecs did hundreds of years ago.
How to Make Chia Fresca
It’s so, so easy. You mix the chia seeds with water, then leave it to gel up slightly. Stir, sweeten and add lime juice. Nothing can be simpler!
The longer you leave the drink, the thicker and more gelatinous it will be, which is what you get when you make chia porridge. Chia seeds, just like basil seeds, swell up and impart a gelatinous texture to the liquid they are soaking in, and therefore, thickening it.
Strawberry Chia Fresca Recipe
It was just one of those things. I usually mix the chia fresca up as I’m making my daily protein workout drink. So one day, in went the strawberries in both drinks.
Later, as I was reaching for the usual mint or basil to flavour the drink with, I noticed the Peruvian Black Mint at the back (it’s a tall plant!), and thought why not. I decided to crush the herb for maximum flavour, and need I say it, it was marvellous!
This is how we do it:
- Mix the chia seeds, water and honey, and leave aside for 5 minutes (or longer if you like).
- Crush/Muddle the Peruvian Black Mint and strawberries.
- Mix everything up, and enjoy!
You can use more strawberries for a stronger strawberry flavoured drink. You can also blitz them in a chopper for a smoother drink.
What is Peruvian Black Mint (Huacatay)?
Peruvian black mint, or Huacatay, is a herb by many, many names! It has minty, aniseed-y and citrusy aromas, and is very popular not just in Peru but many parts of South America.
Shall we go make us some Strawberry Chia Fresca?
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Strawberry Chia Fresca (Iskiate) with Peruvian Black Mint
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 250 ml 1 cup sparkling water
- 1-2 tsp honey to taste
- 3 sprigs Peruvian Black Mint (Huacatay), or regular mint
- 5 small-medium strawberries
- juice of 1 lime
- 2-3 ice cubes
- a sprig of Huacatay or the mint you are using
- Place the chia seeds in your chosen glass and top with half the sparkling water.
- Stir in the honey.
- Place it in the fridge for 5 minutes for the seeds to soften. You can leave it for longer if you like. I quite often make this in the morning, then have it a few hours later, before lunch.
- While waiting, let’s get the huacatay and strawberries ready. Strip the huacatay leaves and crush them with a pestle and mortar or the back of a spoon.
- Do the same with the strawberries. You can blitz the strawberries and mint in a chopper for a smoother drink, if you like.
- Add the crushed/muddled herb and fruit to your chia fresca and stir.
- Add the lime juice and ice cubes and top up with the rest of the sparking water. That’s it!