When I first lived in Costa Rica, it was with the Fonseca family, very deep in the jungle. Rosa and Albino made almost all of their own medicine at home using simple ingredients and plants from their garden. This was where I first learned the term refresco, referring to a thirst-quenching drink which gently cools and clears out the body.
There are numerous varieties of refresco, many of which are slightly slimy, such as Chia Water or Hibiscus Iced Tea. These drinks tend to be mildly laxative, helping to alleviate excess heat that has built up due to digestive blockage and/or diarrhea. They also gently cleanse the waters in our bodies, hydrating the cells and encouraging the lymphatic system to function efficiently.
I often choose Agua de Arroz above other refreshing drinks because of its nutritive component. When babies are ready for food, this milky drink is a great transition to solids. It is also a gentle medicine when children suffer from tummy aches, teething, colds or fevers. Although most effective at the first recognition of symptoms, it can also be used at any time and almost without limitation during illness. As with all cleansing substances, this folk remedy is occasionally used preventively in the diet as and would only be taken in larger amounts during illness.
There are bound to be countless different recipes for Agua de Arroz throughout Latin America. This version is the one I learned from Rosa – feel free to share your adaptations and experiences below!
In a small saucepan, add
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon rice
- 1 teaspoon flax seed
Also add any or all of the following warming, digestive spices
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 balls allspice
- 2 cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- tiny pinch of star anise
Bring to a boil and then simmer, top on. After ten minutes, turn off the heat and leave the top on. Allow mixture to sit for a few hours or overnight. When ready to drink, pour the mix through a fine strainer into a small pitcher.
Add flavor al gusto
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- honey, maple syrup or raw sugar
Serve and enjoy!