Author Notes: Caffeine adds a whole new level of refreshing to agua fresca, if you ask me! You might ask exactly how this differs from iced chai with rice milk, and that would be a fair question, but really, the texture and flavor due to the ground-up rice are very different from something like Rice Dream (odd to talk about the texture of a beverage, but there it is). This recipe is infinitely variable-try it with another kind of tea, if you like, or a different sweetener, or add some vanilla to the mix. There are also plenty of horchata recipes out there that have you soak and pulverize almonds along with the rice, and I imagine that would be good with some kinds of tea as well. I chose the flavors here-warm chai spice and molasses-because it's winter, and a cold drink must make a little concession to the season. Come summer, maybe some white tea or green with honey will be in order.
One last note: I tried this with both plain long-grain white rice and fancy Italian wild red rice and I tasted no difference whatsoever. Hypothetically brown rice might give you more fiber in this if that's something you care about, but since the solids are strained out it's probably negligible.
I got a basic horchata ratio from http://forkfingerschopsticks.com/rice-5-ways-to-make-horchata-mexicos-rice-drink/ —summersavory
cups boiling water
chai tea, loose or in bags, double the amount you would usually use for 1c water
cup cold water (or milk if you want extra creaminess)
- Find a container with a lid that can hold hot liquid and will fit both the tea and the rice. A pint-size ball jar works well. Put your tea bags, or loose tea in a tea strainer, in the container and add the boiling water. Steep the tea for a few minutes to make a nice, strong brew. I used Tea Forte's loose Bombay Chai, a heaping tablespoon, and let it steep for at least 10 minutes. It's alright if the water cools down.
- Take out the tea and add the rice. Close the container and leave it on the counter for at least a few hours, or overnight. For brown rice, I left it for about 9 hours and it worked; I left the long-grain white rice for about 5 1/2 hours and that was enough, although longer would have been fine as well.
- Pour the rice and tea into a blender jar and blend until the rice is finely ground (I used an immersion blender). Strain the mixture: I poured it all into a dampened bandana, twisted up the corners, and slowly squeezed it to get out as much liquid as possible. A fine mesh sieve might do if you don't mind some graininess. Otherwise, a few layers of cheesecloth should do the trick. Add the cold water (or milk for a bit more creaminess, although I like it with the water) and molasses and stir. Serve over ice, or chill in the fridge and serve cold if you'd rather not dilute it further. It will separate a bit as the rice/starch settles, but a quick stir will remix it nicely.
- (If you save the strained-out ground rice, you can use it to make a lovely spiced porridge: I cooked it with some oatmeal and par-cooked quinoa and it was quite tasty. Cream of rice, so to speak.)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Tea