Agua fresca is officially TikTok’s favorite drink. But what is agua fresca, exactly? Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, HUM Nutrition’s education specialist, explains everything you need to know about this trending beverage—and shares three delicious, hydrating recipes you can make at home.
If you’re on TikTok, you’ve probably come across the recent agua fresca or “spa water” trend. Although it’s trending now, agua fresca has been around for centuries and is a staple in many Latin American countries. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but it’s also extremely hydrating and offers several health benefits. Plus, it’s a quick and easy treat anyone can whip up in their kitchen. Below, I’ll dive into the origins of agua fresca, its health benefits, and three easy recipes to try.
What Is Agua Fresca?
Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water”. A more accurate definition, however, would be infused or flavored water.
It’s worth clarifying that the term agua fresca describes a category of drinks whereas a type of agua fresca is named according to its flavor. For example, a pineapple agua fresca is called agua de piña, which is Spanish for pineapple water.
Traditional to Mexico and some Latin American countries, agua fresca is a popular drink during warmer months. Usually, agua fresca is sold by street vendors outside of churches, schools, markets, and on special occasions. Of course, families also enjoy making agua fresca at home. (My dad actually makes a mean hibiscus agua fresca—peep our family recipe below!)
On TikTok, you might see some people mistakenly referring to agua fresca as “spa water”. Spa water is water that’s lightly infused with fruit or cucumber (think: lemon water). Agua fresca, on the other hand, is concentrated, packed with flavor, and made with a variety of edible plants and seeds, in addition to fruit. Additionally, agua fresca can vary from sweet to tart to even milky in flavor.
Some of the most common agua fresca flavors include:
- Agua de horchata: made with vanilla, white rice, and cinnamon
- Agua de jamaica: made with dried hibiscus flower leaves
- Agua de limon: made with fresh lime juice
- Agua de fresa: made from blended strawberries
- Agua de tamarindo: made with edible fruit from the tamarind tree
- Agua de sandía: made with blended watermelon and fresh lime juice
Is Agua Fresca Healthy?
You may find it surprising that most people don’t consume agua fresca for its health benefits. People drink agua fresca because it’s a delicious (and affordable) way to quench your thirst during the summer. Nevertheless, agua fresca is inherently a healthier alternative to other flavored beverages (such as sugary sodas or juices).
Given that the base of agua fresca is water, it can help boost your hydration levels. When you’re adequately hydrated, you’re less likely to crave high-sugar beverages like sodas and juices. Moreover, agua fresca is a fun and easy way to incorporate more fresh fruits and other edible plants into your diet.
Remember: Agua fresca is traditionally made with added sugar for sweetness. You can control how much sugar you add (if any) depending on how sweet you like your beverages.
Overall, homemade agua fresca is a healthy beverage. Just be careful with powdered, premade agua fresca, as this is typically made with artificial flavors and sweeteners. Instead, opt for homemade agua fresca—it’s quick, simple, and absolutely delicious.
How to Make Agua Fresca
Most agua fresca is made by creating a fruit (or flavor) concentrate and diluting it in a large pitcher with water, sugar, and ice. The concentrate is typically made by blending whole fruit into a liquid or by boiling/soaking an edible plant or flower. So whether you’re a whiz in the kitchen or you hate cooking, agua fresca is relatively easy for anyone to make.
3 Agua Fresca Recipes to Try
Ready to get in on the TikTok trend? Here are three RD-approved agua fresca recipes to test out.