Originating in Latin America, agua fresca is a refreshing nonalcoholic beverage based on fruits, hibiscus flowers, or, in some regions, cereals, along with sugar and water.
Though some may be prepared using juice or tea, like lime or hibiscus (also known as agua de Jamaica), agua frescas are often made by blending water with fresh fruit, like watermelon, pineapple, mango, and cucumber. The finished drink is more diluted than a typical juice would be, making it perfect for enjoying on a hot day. The drink may be strained to remove seeds or particularly fibrous fruits, but it is not uncommon to find pieces of fresh fruit floating in an agua fresca.
Additional ingredients like lime juice and sugar or simple syrup may be added to an agua fresca to taste. Chia seeds, the seeds of flowering mint, are sometimes added to provide agua frescas with an interesting, gelatinous texture.
Horchata, a beverage made from blended rice, is a popular non-fruit aqua fresca that may be sweetened with piloncillo and spiced with canela (Mexican cinnamon).
Though the ratios for an agua fresca can vary based on your preference, a good starting point is:
2 cups of water to 1 cup of fresh fruit, blended.
Add sugar and lime juice to taste, and serve the mixture chilled. An authentic agua fresca is generally served without ice, so chill it in the refrigerator before serving.