JAMAICA vs. Horchata


Candice Cugnier

Two popular Mexican drinks, Jamaica (on the left) and Horchata (on the right) clashing in midair.

Both horchata and jamaica are popular Mexican agua frescas, each with their own delicious and unique flavors. However, with love for these drinks has also come controversy, as horchata and jamaica enthusiasts attempt to answer the pressing question: which is superior?

While drink preference depends completely on the taste of the individual, I believe that jamaica is the overall better option. Firstly, it is much more palatable than horchata is. Jamaica, which is flavored with hibiscus flowers, is comparable to cranberry juice and is served cold like a juice or iced tea. Horchata is usually much sweeter than jamaica, flavored mainly with rice and cinnamon. Horchata is more of an acquired taste than jamaica is. Those who did not grow up drinking horchata, or who are unfamiliar with the drink, may find jamaica to be more easily likable because of its resemblance to other well-known American drinks. Horchata, on the other hand, has a more unique flavor that can also be more dislikable. 

Secondly, the flavor of jamaica is far more consistent and reliable than the flavor of horchata is. Everyone makes their horchata slightly different, with varying sweetness, amounts of cinnamon, and even varying flavor. This means that you never quite know what to expect when ordering horchata from a new place, and it is hard to find horchata that fits your preferences perfectly, unless of course you make it yourself. Conversely, jamaica is much more consistent in its flavor, because all jamaica is flavored in the same way. The only way in which jamaica can differ is in its sweetness, but even that can easily be adjusted to the liking of the consumer.

Those who prefer horchata often argue that jamaica can be too bitter for their taste. Once again, this is really a matter of preference, and can easily be fixed by adding sugar.

  Another aspect of jamaica that makes it superior is that it is very refreshing, more so than horchata. If you are in need of something that tastes fresh and cool, jamaica is the perfect choice, because it is like juice. Horchata, however, is far less refreshing than jamaica due to its heavier and sweeter taste and texture. Furthermore, jamaica is the much better option to have with a meal, as it is lighter and less overpowering. In some ways, horchata is more of a dessert drink than one to have alongside a meal because it is so sweet and rich. 

Jamaica has also been proven to have numerous health benefits, including containing vitamin C and helping to cleanse the body of excess salt. In the time of the Aztects, jamaica was even used to lower blood pressure. 

As an experiment, we decided to bring both horchata and jamaica to our journalism class for our staff writers to try and then vote on. Jamaica won, with 71% of voters backing it. This supports my point that jamaica is less of an acquired taste than horchata is, because most of our staff writers were not familiar with the drinks and chose jamaica. 

“Both drinks were good, but I enjoyed jamaica more because it was refreshing and I personally liked the flavor better,” said junior journalism student Evelina Erickson. 

Even though I believe that jamaica is the superior drink, due to its refreshing taste, dependability, and likeability, your stance on this topic just depends on your taste. Both are very delicious drinks, and if you find yourself at a Mexican restaurant anytime soon, I highly encourage you to try one of them!