Food News

Tiste, A Historic Chorotega Drink

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español

When I asked experienced Nicoyan cooks who could teach me how to make this recipe, they recommended I speak with “the chief” of tiste, Azucena Alemán, an 81-year-old woman from Matambu who has been part of the Virgin of Guadalupe festival since she was 12 years old. 

During the fairs, Azucena learned from her elders how to make this thick, chocolatey drink, which has been part of the celebration since it began almost 500 years ago. 

Those of us who have tried it await anxiously for December 11 and 12 so we can go for a full “huacal” (a kind of recipient made out of jícaro) of this age-old elixir. If you have never tried it, or if you can’t wait until next December, here is the step-by-step recipe just as the chief explained it to me. 


  • 2.2 lbs of cacao 
  • 4.4 lbs of rice
  • 2 packages of cloves 
  • 2 caps of panela 
  • 8 cups of water 

(Makes enough for 10-15 people)


  1. Mix the rice and cloves and soak in water for three to four hours
  2. Roast the cacao and remove it from its shell
  3. Grate the panela 
  4. Finely grind (in a blender or a grinder) the rice, cloves and cacao 
  5. Dissolve the water in the panela 
  6. Add the mixture of rice with cloves and cacao and stir well
  7. Strain and serve at room temperature

*Tiste should be drank the same day it is made because it goes bad quickly