Americans are somewhat old-fashioned when it comes to drinks. We tend to be satisfied with coffee at the office, aqua at the water cooler, sparkly refreshments at catered events. We reach for soda and water without the slightest clue that the best, most refreshing beverages from around the world lie in wait overseas. Adventurous catering spreads often lose their appeal when trendy South American chivito sandwiches are served alongside predictable cola. There’s thirst-quenching sugar water from Costa Rica and smoky Mezcal from Mexico, all of which are simply waiting for time to shine
We gathered 8 beverages from around the world to serve as inspiration for your next meeting or event—morning, noon, and night. These refreshing beverages are supremely delicious and are guaranteed to outshine the strongest cup of coffee and the sweetest glass of cola.
1. Agua Dulce (Costa Rica)
Leave it to one of the world’s best sugarcane producers, Costa Rica, to concoct this simple sweet drink. Agua Dulce blends water and boiled sugarcane juice into a refreshing beverage almost anyone can make. A common drink among Costa Rican farm workers, this beverage will provide a quick burst of energy when long stretches of hard work loom.
2. Dou Jiang (China and Taiwan)
Dou Jiang is Asia’s version of soy milk. Part beverage, part soup, many people in China and Taiwan start their day with a steaming bowl of dou jiang to jolt their system. As Eater describes, real soy milk in its unadulterated form is lush and nutty. It coats your upper lip and requires zero sugar to be enticingly fragrant and savory. Want to answer America’s cry for more dairy-based protein? Your next breakfast meeting deserves a sample of this refreshing vegan beverage.
3. Functional Coffee (America)
There’s a growing desire for functional coffee. You know, superfood coffee infused with probiotics and antioxidants. Java that does more than just wake you up—it supports metabolism, healthy skin, and alertness, too. Everything from turmeric to ground flaxseed to cacao is being added to our daily doses of caffeine these days. The brand Keepers, for example, mingles roasted coffee beans with fresh-pressed citrus and carbonated water. The result? A unique mashup of refreshing flavors that should’ve been paired together ages ago.
4. Salep (Turkey)
Long before coffee and tea were warming our bellies and energizing our brains, Turkish residents were enjoying a healthy swig of salep, a rich, hot beverage made with milk and sugar that is thickened with flour made from wild orchid tubers (a wheat starch powdered substitute is used to mimic orchid thickeners in America). Milk and sugar marry with the flour to produce an earthy drink with a thick and creamy texture. Each serving is sprinkled with a healthy dust of cinnamon and is consumed piping hot.
5. Licuado (Mexico)
Licuados, Spanish for “smoothies” are milk-based drinks Mexico City residents deem a quick and nutritious meal. Blended milk and fruit licuados are found on almost every Mexican street stand. However, the result is not nearly as thick as what’s traditionally swirled in American blenders. Banana, mango, strawberry, you can’t go wrong with this frothy refreshing beverage. Garnish with cinnamon spice to combat fatigue and you’ll find that lunch and learns grow more productive by the minute.
6. Thai Iced Tea (Thailand)
In Thailand, Thai iced tea is commonly found in small coffee shops or street vendors and served in a tied plastic bag with a straw. In America, the trendy caffeinated drink comprised of black tea and condensed milk is brewed and swirled in a tall glass. Stir the ingredients together to produce a show-stopping sienna color that begs to become your next Instagram boomerang or Snapchat post. Then, indulge in its distinct flavor profile of caramel and herbal sweetness. Thai iced tea is a refreshing beverage that’s popping up on countless Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant menus, ready to rescue you when midday caffeine withdrawals take hold.
7. Yerba Mate (South America)
Made by steeping the leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree in hot water, this caffeinated beverage from around this side of the world is widely popular in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. Yerba mate is an herbal tea so strong it puts energy drinks and black coffee to shame. It’s for this reason the Mayo Clinic suggests we enjoy mate in moderation. Still, the refreshing, stimulating brew is believed to fight weariness and treat a common headache.
8. Mezcal (Mexico)
Even celebratory events and happy hours could benefit from a little kick. Tequila’s smoky sister, mezcal, is surging onto America’s bar scene, appearing in countless beverages from around the world in 2018. People praise its heft and usually opt to drink this liquor straight for a bright, refreshing, earthy libation. That’s not to say an expertly mixed mezcal sour or mezcal mule cocktail couldn’t also please your taste buds on a warm summer evening.
Bored with breakfast? We’ve got a solution for that, too.