Tamarind is a flavor that is derived from the fruit of the tamarind tree, and tamarind is more common as an ingredient in Indian and East Asian cuisine, which means that many westerners – especially North Americans – are unfamiliar with tamarind as an ingredient, or its taste.
What is tamarind soda taste? Once you’ve tried it, you will never forget it!
Some people spit out their first taste of tamarind soda with disgust, but plenty of others with curious tastebuds keep coming back to this interesting and indescribable taste.
What Is Tamarind Soda?
Tamarind soda is a carbonated beverage made from the fruit of the tamarind tree.
It gained popularity in Mexico as one of the most popular flavors from the beverage company, Jarritos. In the 1950s, Mexico was overrun by foreign soda companies selling refreshing drinks. In particular, Coca-Cola was everywhere.
The founder of the Jarritos company, Don Francisco Hill, wanted to start a company to rival foreign soda companies, using fruits that are grown natively in Mexico.
He named his company after the traditional jars that Mexicans have used to drink cold beverages for centuries.
Tamarind, which is native to the Mexican province of Oaxaca, provides the fruit for the 2nd most popular flavor of Jarritos.
Although there were beverages before Jarritos that used tamarind – in particular, it was common to make Agua fresco with tamarind – it wasn’t until tamarind soda was carbonated and bottled for mass distribution that it gained widespread popularity, first in Mexico and then abroad.
Today, tamarind soda holds an unmovable place in Mexican life and culture, and this interesting drink is becoming more and more popular outside of Mexico as well.
What Is Tamarind?
Tamarind is a tree that is originally native to Africa, India, and East Asia.
The fruit of the tamarind tree comes in pods. When you open up a pod, you’ll find that the fruit is both sweet and sour, with an unusual and interesting tang and acidity.
Less ripe pods and fruit that has been dried tend to be more sour than sweet.
Tamarind is a common ingredient, especially in Indian and Thai cuisine, but it is added to so many other foods that you have probably eaten tamarind before without even knowing it.
Tamarind is a central ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, and also shows up in curries, pad Thai, and sauces. You can even find ketchup with added tamarind.
The sweetness and sourness of tamarind don’t do justice to the full flavor, which is incredibly deep and rich with earthy, woody notes as well as caramel and molasses.
What Comes Up With Tamarind Soda Flavor?
Tamarind soda is a light orange-brown color, and you can find it in Mexico or abroad by looking for the Jarritos logo, with 3 small jars, and the word “Tamarind” printed just below it.
Homemade tamarind soda, or tamarind Agua fresca, looks like an orangish iced tea. The tamarind is reddish-orange and changes the color of the beverage overall.
Where Does Tamarind Soda Come From? How Is It Made?
Tamarind soda is made by the Jarritos company in Mexico. You can find it in grocery stores and restaurants in Mexico, as well as imported from Mexican and big-box grocery stores in North America.
Tamarind soda is made from real tamarind grown in Mexico.
The tamarind is harvested and made into a pulp, which is used to create the refreshing carbonated soda.
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Is Tamarind Soda Healthy?
Not really – soft drinks are sugar water – but Jarritos tamarind soda is probably healthier than 90% of other soft drinks on the market, containing less sugar and fewer added ingredients than most large brands.
Jarritos use real fruit juice as the basis for their drinks. They always have. This means they end up using fewer complex chemicals and food colorings to create their flavors.
When you taste tamarind in Jarritos tamarind soda, you are tasting the fruit rather than a list of chemicals that are used to simulate the fruit.
Tamarind soda is also caffeine free, unlike most colas. Caffeine is a diuretic and has other negative health effects, including anxiety that you might want to avoid.
A tamarind soda won’t make you jittery or give you a headache, like some caffeine drinks might.
Jarritos tamarind soda also includes some healthy components, like polyphenols. Polyphenols are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds also found in black tea.
Polyphenols have been shown to help fight against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
It’s not healthy to drink a dozen bottles of tamarind soda a day, but having one or two is probably fine and might even help your health – especially if you are substituting tamarind soda for another soft drink that you would have had instead.
What Are The Dangers Of Drinking Too Much Tamarind Soda?
Eating or drinking too much tamarind can cause some adverse health effects, including enamel damage and constipation. However, these are extremely unlikely problems if the only form of tamarind you are taking is tamarind soda.
You would need to drink dozens of bottles a day, or else be eating tamarind foods along with your tamarind soda all of the time, to experience those sorts of problems.
Tamarind soda is safe to drink and has no real dangers unless you have a specific allergy to tamarind, or it interacts with the medication you are taking.
Some people do experience allergic reactions to tamarind, and there is enough of it in Jarrito’s tamarind soda to affect you.
What’s worse, if you have never tried tamarind before, you might not know that you are allergic! If you experience any kind of adverse reaction from drinking tamarind soda, listen to your body and stop. The reaction should stop too.
Tamarind can impact certain medications, although it is uncommon. If you are taking medication, check and see if there are any dietary restrictions or possible interactions mentioned.
If you are not sure, you might need to consult with your doctor before taking tamarind.
For most people, there is no danger to drinking tamarind soda in moderation.
Where Can You Buy Tamarind Soda?
Jarritos tamarind soda is sold in about 90% of Mexico, as well as in Mexican and big-box grocery stores in North America, Europe, and around the world.
If you can’t find Jarritos in your town or city, you can also order them online via Amazon or another online retailer, and have them shipped to you.
Can You Make Tamarind Soda?
It’s difficult to recreate the precise taste of Jarritos tamarind soda, but if you want to create your own version, it is pretty easy to make your own tamarind soda at home.
What you’re making is an Agua fresca with tamarind, using sparkling water. This creates the same kind of carbonated fuzziness, with all of the tamarind flavors.
You only need 4 ingredients to make a delicious tamarind soda at home: Tamarind pods, water, lime, and sugar.
You start by soaking and blending the tamarind pods to get tamarind paste. Then, strain that to remove the pulp, and add the juice to a glass with sugar, water, and lime.
Tamarind Soda Nutritional Information
per 355ml Jarritos Tamarind Soda, per Jarritos
Tamarind Soda Recipes: Quick Table
|Tamarind Iced Tea||563||30 minutes|
|Imli Panna Tamarind Soda Recipe||287||40 minutes|
|Pad Thai Using Jarritos Tamarind Soda||429||n/a|
It takes a little bit of work to create this incredible beverage, that mixes the depth of flavor of tamarind with all the flavors of black tea, but it is worth it.
If you are a fan of the tamarind flavor in tamarind soda, you have to experience what it’s like in combination with tea and lime.
The earthiness of the tamarind mixes with the complex flavors in the tea, and adding milk to it smooths all of these flavors into a different taste experience.
The preparation process is pretty similar to what you would go through if you were making tamarind soda from scratch, only using hot water and tea rather than cold water.
You’ll have to go through the same process of creating the tamarind pulp and forcing it through a sieve to get the useful juice.
The good news is that when you are finished you’ll be able to taste something incredible that you’ve never tried before. Don’t forget to add the cilantro and ice before serving. The fresh cilantro pairs perfectly with the tamarind flavor.
Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes
If you want to prepare your own authentic tamarind soda at home, this recipe is a great one. It is based on the traditional Indian drink, Imli Panna, which uses tamarind.
This will not taste exactly like Jarritos, but that’s not the important thing, is it? This recipe highlights the unique and rich flavor of tamarind and allows you to enjoy it in a cool and refreshing carbonated beverage that is perfect for a hot sunny day.
You might even get a taste of the Indian style of tamarind soda.
If you do want to get closer to what Jarritos and Mexican tamarind soda tastes like, omit the cumin and mint, and add lime and cilantro instead.
This will shift the flavors in a Mexican direction and make the flavor a little more recognizable to lovers of Jarritos.
Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes
One of my favorite uses of tamarind is in Pad Thai. Although there are many western pad Thai sauces that feature peanut butter and other non-traditional ingredients, my favorite form of Pad Thai is still the light and tangy, almost salad-like version you can buy for very cheap in Bangkok markets.
This style of pad Thai sauce features tamarind, the key ingredient that largely got omitted when it migrated to the west.
This pad Thai sauce uses Jarritos tamarind soda to get that beautiful, rich tamarind flavor without going through all of the trouble of preparing the tamarind yourself or using a pre-made tamarind paste.
It’s a very convenient recipe if you already have Jarritos tamarind soda on hand.
If you don’t, it would probably be just as easy to use a traditional Thai recipe, since you would need to prepare the tamarind pulp to make the soda, before using the soda to make the sauce.
The finished sauce doesn’t have an overpowering tamarind taste – neither does authentic pad Thai! It just has that rich and tangy accent that complements the fish sauce and brown sugar, making a perfect pad Thai sauce.
Total Preparation Time: n/a
Frequently Asked Questions
What Flavor Is Tamarind?
The tamarind flavor comes from the fruit of the tamarind tree, which is native to Africa and Asia. It is sweet, sour, tangy, and tart with an earthy aftertaste and notes of molasses or caramel.
If you have never tried tamarind before, it is difficult to explain what it tastes like, but you should be prepared for sourness and tartness along with the complex flavors.
What Is Tamarind Jarritos?
Jarritos is a beverage company based in Mexico, and their 2nd most popular soft drink is a tamarind-flavored soda that is a popular treat in Mexico.
Since tamarind is a rarely used ingredient in North America, this soda has piqued a lot of curiosity. Some people love the interesting and unique flavor, while others hate it.
Jarritos tamarind soda is one of those drinks you have to try for yourself to decide whether you like it.
Does Jarritos Tamarind Soda Have Caffeine?
No, there is no caffeine in Jarritos tamarind soda.
Does Jarritos Have Alcohol?
No, Jarritos is a soft drink that is sold without alcohol. There is currently no alcoholic version of Jarritos tamarind soda.
However, that doesn’t mean people don’t mix drinks with tamarind soda! Since the flavor is so powerful, the preferred alcohols to mix with tamarind soda are vodka and white rum.
Some people enjoy spiced rum as well, which complements the tamarind flavor.
What Flavor Is Similar To Tamarind?
The flavor of tamarind is very unique, and hard to compare with any other flavors.
Tamarind is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, and in some cases, you can add a bit of Worcestershire sauce to a dish to get tamarind flavor, although it contains many other ingredients too.
Pomegranate molasses has much of the sweetness, tanginess, and burnt sugar flavor that tamarind has.
Practically speaking, the easiest way to replace tamarind in a recipe is with lime juice and brown sugar, although this is a pretty inadequate replacement.
Tamarind has a unique flavor that is hard to compare or replace. It is sweet and tangy, while also sour and pungent, with a deep earthy richness.
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