Many of you may have heard of Agua de Frescos or Fresh Water in English, but you may not know exactly how amazing this drink actually is.
The first time I heard of it was about three years ago when I was in a restaurant eating an almuerzo. The ‘juice’ was an amazing refreshing reddish drink, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on the exact flavors. I asked what it was, and I was told ‘flores’ or flowers. This got me scratching my head because now I wanted to know exactly what ‘flower’ or flowers made up this drink. The answer to my next question perplexed me even more. I asked if it was a ‘jugo’ or juice. I was told that it was water.
The last time I turned on my faucet, the water wasn’t red, and it certainly didn’t taste like flowers.
Now, I was intrigued. For me, it doesn’t take much. When there is a mystery to solve, I’m on the case. I knew I wasn’t looking for a red Fountain of Youth, but the idea of it being water mystified me. I started asking around to my new Ecuadorian friends in my limited Spanish. “Is it a juice or a tea?” I got the same answer over and over again, ‘It’s water’.
So, I was in the market with one of my Ecuadorian friends, and I asked her about Agua de Frescos. She brought me over to a vendor that sold plants and herbs and pointed out a bunch of neatly wrapped flowers for fifty cents. I bought it and brought it home.
Once I got it home, I realized I didn’t know what to do with it or exactly what flowers and plants I was dealing with. I love natural products and home remedies, but I really like to know what my ingredients are since I am allergy prone. The first bunch I bought I put in water on my counter, and didn’t touch it.
Here’s where the true detective work began. I felt like a real sleuth, Inspector Gadget, without the gadgets, or the Pink Panther without the accent. Every person I asked, either didn’t know the names of the flowers, didn’t want to write them down for me, or gave me completely different names than the previous person. I looked online, examining pictures and comparing them to the actual flowers. I did learn that the ingredients do vary slightly depending on who put the bunches together.
So, finally, I brought along a friend to Feria Libre and asked her if she could take notes while I asked my questions. The vendor, Fabiola, very patiently named each of the plants and their uses, as my friend wrote down the information.
So, I had a huge part of the mystery solved. Now it was time for my favorite part, the research; but first, I needed all the plants translated in English. Google was mostly helpful with that and a friend helped me with the rest.
Now, I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to be; in fact, I’ve been known to faint at the sight of blood or be a supportive puke buddy. but what I found out about these plants astounded me. Each ingredient helps a variety of problems. Here are a few of my favorites:
Fennel- Ladies, remember in the 50’s and 60’s we used to do exercises for breast enhancements. Remember: “We must, we must, we must increase our bust.” Well, Fennel helps to stimulate the natural estrogen in your body which can enlarge breast tissue for a natural enhancement.
Do you have excess gas or fart a lot at inopportune times? Do you have bad breath after brushing your teeth only a few hours before? Fennel is a plant that helps with both of these problems.
So, if you don’t want to do breast exercises, get a breast augmentation, not have bad breath, or if you have excessive flatulence; just brew Fennel!
Amaranth- This is one of my favorite plants. I use it as a natural dye. It is also the plant that gives the Agua de Frescos the rich red tones. It also has claims to some fascinating health benefits such as an amino acid that stimulates hair growth and combats the problem of male baldness. It also strengthens capillary walls, eliminating varicose veins.
These plants can help with a number of illnesses including depression, fatigue, IBS, heartburn, menstrual problems, cancer, migraines, arthritis, gout, infections, kidney stones, memory loss, and bone density. For a full list of claims, see the list below.
Now, here’s the million dollar question: How do you brew the tea, or, water?
First Step: You fill a stock pot half way up with water.
Second Step: Cut the bunch across about 4 inches from the top, so you have an equal amount of plants in the water, and you have half left over for another batch. If you want to cook the entire bunch of flowers you’ll need to add more water; otherwise, the ‘tea’ will be very strong.
Third Step: Let the water boil for 15 to 20 minutes. The longer you boil, the stronger the ‘tea’. Boil until you get a nice reddish-brown color to the water. Mine was on the brown side because I had less Ataco in my bunch, which brings out the red tones.
Fourth Step: Strain the leaves out of the water and pour into jars. Mine made about 2 liters.
Below is my good friend Fabiola at Feria Libre, who I buy all my herbs from. She and her daughter are a good source of herbal information. The other picture is me, buying from her very busy stand.
So, what did I learn from my adventure?
I learned that people have been using plants for centuries to remedy their ailments. Some of the side effects of medications are worse than the disease itself. Maybe, I’ll tell you about my experiences with that at a later date, but for myself, I want to use as many natural remedies as I can. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and a place for medicine, but if some non-life threatening illnesses can be helped with a tea or water, that would be my first choice. As always, check with your doctor before you start any herbal remedies.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. My name is Deborah Barlow and I’m a mother, a teacher, and a believer in natural remedies. I raised my son in New Hampshire, 2.5 hours north of the White Mountains on the Canadian border, minutes from a National Forest. I taught myself a natural way of life, canning my own foods and finding my own skin care solutions because of severe allergies. Now, moving to Ecuador three years ago, I’ve taken that knowledge and expanded it to include plants, herbs, and flowers that are native here.
I can be found Wednesdays between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the CEDEI’s el Centro location Book Exchange on the bottom floor, Gran Colombia 11-02 y General Torres, in the heart of Cuenca. My products are also available online and we offer delivery to the Cuenca area.