Tejuino was not only popular in pre-Hispanic times, but is still a favorite hot-weather drink in Jalisco, Chihuahua and other places. To find out how it’s made, I had only to drive five minutes from my home outside Guadalajara to the nearest tejuino stand, where brewer Osmar Carmona outlined the procedure:
“First we remove kernels from the corncob and wet them until they sprout. Then we put them into a pot and add water and cal (powdered lime). This we boil, cover, and allow to cool overnight. Now we drain the liquid, rub the fibrous hull off the kernels of corn and grind up the inner parts. Finally, we add piloncillo [natural brown sugar] and boiled water and give this a chance to ferment a bit.”
To the resulting cappuccino-colored beverage, Carmona adds lime juice, scoops of mango and lemon nieve (sherbet) and, of course, a sprinkling of chili powder.
Carmona’s tejuino is for family use and he says it contains no alcohol, but other tejuino sellers allow the drink to ferment more than “a bit,” and it could have an alcohol content of four to five percent. This stronger version of the drink is called tesgüino, which, for the Rarámuri and other groups, is a sacred, ritual beverage.
“El tejuino is not only refreshing, it’s good for your health,” Carmona told me as he handed me my bebida. “If you drink it regularly, it will replace the pathogenic bacteria in your colon with probiotics: live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you and will keep your tripas healthy.”