All About Tepache (Better Than Kombucha?): Recipe, Benefits, & History

Published on April 12, 2024

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

A recent explosion of research on the human microbiome using technological advances in genomic sequencing has helped enhance our understanding of its role in human health.

This has led to an interest in discovering (or rediscovering) fermented foods and beverages that may help replenish, enhance, and maintain our microbiomes and promote various aspects of well-being. 

One such fermented food (or drink) is kombucha. 

What was once only known to Asian culture, Kombucha has exploded into popularity and is forecasted to reach almost 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in sales by 2024.REF#3890

But there is an up-and-coming star in the functional beverage world that may rival Kombucha in flavor and benefits, Tepache.

In this article, we will examine the history of Tepache, what it is, some of its potential benefits, and share a Tepache recipe.

A Brief Overview of Tepache 

Tepache has its roots in pre-Hispanic Mexico. The word Tepache comes from the Aztec word Tepiatl, which means it is made from corn. 

Although the recipe's origins used corn as the primary ingredient, Tepache has changed over the decades.

These days, it is made from various fruits, including pineapple, apple, and oranges, although pineapple is the most popular base.

How Tepache is Made

It is traditionally made from the pulp and juice of the fruit and allowed to ferment with water and sugar (an unrefined brown cane sugar called piloncillo) in a lidless wood barrel called a “tepachera” and covered with cheesecloth.REF#3891

After sitting for a few days, natural “wild” yeasts ferment and brew, converting the added sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide. This results in a drink that is low in alcohol (lower than 2%) and is fizzy, much like the kombuchas with which many of us are familiar.

Another style of Tepache is also made the same way, but instead of utilizing the wild yeasts present in the environment, a scoby-like* starter called Tibicos is added.

*A scoby, also known as a kombucha mushroom, is the starter culture used to transform tea and sugar into kombucha.

What are Tibicos?

Tibicos are microcolonies of bacteria and yeast that live symbiotically.REF#3892 When given a food source, like the brown sugar and fruit sugars found in the recipe, these microorganisms actively consume it, thus activating fermentation to produce the final product.

The choice of whether to add tibicos to your Tepache is individual. Some people like to add it to ensure a more consistent and bubbly ferment, while others feel it’s unnecessary or prefer the wild yeast version.

Later, we’ll share a basic Tepache recipe you can try to determine which method works best for you.

What are the Benefits of Tepache?

Although Tepache has not been widely studied, preliminary research suggests various potential benefits.

The primary benefit lies in Tepache’s naturally occurring probiotics, which help support the microbiome diversity and digestive function.

Studies have identified potential health compounds and beneficial microorganisms present in Tepache, including:REF#3893 REF#3894

  • Lactic acid
  • Acetic Acid
  • Lactiplantibacillus plantarum 
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Lactobacillus sp.
  • Lactococcus lactis 
  • Hanseniaspora
  • Bacillus spp.
  • Torulopsis
  • Saccharomyces 

Although studies haven’t been conducted on the specific benefits of consuming tepache, probiotics, in general, have shown evidence to assist with improving gut microbiota, supporting the immune, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, nervous, cognitive, and female reproductive systems.REF#3895 REF#3896 REF#3897

Recipe: How To Make Your Own Tepache

Drinking Tepache is healthy, and it’s very easy for you to make it yourself.

Plus, when you make your own, you can custom-tailor the recipe to suit while saving some money in the process.

Here, we’ll share how to make pineapple Tepache, the most popular flavor.

Pineapple Tepache Recipe

Equipment Needed:

  • A half-gallon mason jar or large glass bowl
  • Cheesecloth 
  • Measuring cups
  • A small pot for boiling water


  • 8 cups filtered water
  • 4 ounces brown sugar or piloncillo
      • You can find piloncillo, also known as panela, in international markets or supermarkets' produce sections. It’s typically sold in a conical shape and has a color like brown sugar.
    • The rind from 1 whole fresh pineapple 
    • Optional herbs and spices for flavor or specific support

    How to Make:

    1. Make your sugar water: Warm 2 cups of water on the stove and add 4 ounces of brown sugar or grated piloncillo. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Set aside to cool completely. 
      • Piloncillo can be added whole but will take more time to dissolve. You can either grate it by hand using a box grater or pulse it in the food processor.
    2. While the sugar water is cooling, remove the rind of the pineapple, discard the top, and save the fruit in the middle to enjoy later.
    3. Place the pineapple rind into a sturdy 1/2-gallon glass canning jar, pour in the sugar water, and add an additional 6 cups of filtered water.
      • The most important thing is that the pineapple rinds are just covered.
    4. At this point, you can add any of your favorite herbs or spices to the mix.
      • If you’re unsure how they’ll affect the flavor, start by adding a small amount (a tablespoon of dried Chamomile, 2-3 sticks of Cinnamon, or a tea bag of Holy Basil/Tulsi, for example) of one herb to the mix. You can always add more later, but you can’t subtract.
      • Common herbs and spices used are cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves
    5. Add tibicos if desired.
      • Adding tibicos at this stage is optional but can help ensure consistency in fermentation. Tibicos can be found as water kefir grains and purchased as water kefir starter grains. 
    6. Next, cover the container with cheesecloth or a plastic mason jar lid.
    7. Let sit at room temperature or somewhere warm in the kitchen, like on top of the fridge. 
    8. Check your Tepache regularly at 12-hour intervals to monitor progress.
      • This is important, especially if you have a closed lid, because the fermentation will produce carbonation. If it's warm, this can happen quickly and can burst the jar if it isn’t “burped.”
      • You “burp” the jar by carefully unscrewing the lid about halfway until some of the carbon dioxide build-up is released.
      • Burping is not necessary if using cheesecloth instead of a lid.
    9. Your Tepache should be ready to drink within 24 to 36 hours.
    10. If you make more than can be consumed all at once, refrigerate. The fridge's cool temperature will stop fermentation, and if closed with a hand-tightened lid, the fizziness should be maintained for a few days.

        Once you master the basic recipe, you can adjust it using your favorite fruits and experiment with different herbs and spices.

        Happy brewing!

        For more healthy recipes, see our recipe index: Gaia Herbs Recipes For A Healthier You.


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