This Is Why You Should Drink Sugarcane Juice


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Sugarcane juice, or “nước mía” in Vietnamese, is one of the most looked-for beverages on streets across Vietnam – especially on these warm days. Being a local street food tour provider, we’d like to answer sugarcane juice related questions, such as why you, or anyone who’s visiting Hanoi, should drink it.

What is Sugarcane Juice?

Sugarcane is a grass plant, which can grow up to 6 meters mature height with stout, jointed, and fibrous stalks. The plant is native to the tropical countries, such as Vietnam – where it’s grown mostly for sugar production.

Sugarcane juice is a fresh, sweet, and syrupy liquid that’s squeezed, by a hand-mill or machine, from peeled sugarcanes. The juice is the key ingredient for a dozen of other products like brown sugar, jaggery, rum, molasses, biofuel, and ethanol.

Sugarcane on Long Bien bridge

Sugarcane on motorbike

On Vietnam’s streets, vendors commonly squeeze peeled sugarcane stalks with a green kumquat to flavor its juice, a dash of salt is sometimes added to balance out the sweetness (but no ginger). The fresh drink is then poured over a full-of-ice cup, making a refreshing nuoc miathat no one would deny.

What Are Sugarcane Juice Nutrition and Calories?

Sugarcane juice comes with an abundance of nutrients that includes potassium, calcium, magnesium, magnesium, iron, thiamin, and riboflavin. A cup of sugarcane juice (240 ml) has 183 calories, 50 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of fibre.

Why Sugarcane Juice is Popular in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s ample sunlight makes it the perfect breeding land for sugarcane, which has been one of the country’s main crops since ancient times. Records show that, crude sugar was a part of Vietnam’s annual tributes to China two thousand years ago.

Hanoi sugarcane

Being indigenous to Vietnam, sugarcane has been appearing in local cuisine for centuries. Most vendors’ source of canes come from the nearby countryside, the close distance from farm to cart ensures that they remain mostly fresh and juicy until consumption.

Furthermore, Vietnam is among the warmest countries in the world, its summer weather is not kind to anybody on the street. In such scorching heat, an ice-cold cup filled to the brim with fresh kumquat flavored sugarcane juice is definitely a godsend, which everyone would welcome with open arms.

Cup of sugarcane juice

Next to the immediately cool down effect, sugarcane juice is among the most affordable drinks in Vietnam. The cost of a cup (240ml) is only 15.000 dong (65 US cents), which is considered to be reasonable for such a refreshing beverage.

So now you know it’s convenient, fresh, refreshing, and cheap to have a cup of sugarcane juice in Vietnam. Every time you feel like you need to replenish your body and re-hydrate during a food tour, grab that cup of iced sugarcane juice and enjoy it.

How is Sugarcane Juice Made in Hanoi?

As sugarcane juice is Hanoian’s favorite drink, it can be found in abundance. Any canes that don’t make it to the sugar factories find themselves destined for the heavy rollers of the sugarcane juice machine, and into the parched throats of thirsty locals and weary tourists.

pressing sugarcane juice

Sugarcane juice machine

In Hanoi, sugarcane juice is usually pressed manually between two heavy rollers. The vendor sticks two to three 50-centimeter-long canes in between the rollers, the milky and thicky juice gushes down into a plastic jug, waiting to receive it. 

After the second pressing, he would then fold the canes over, and tuck two green kumquats into it, the flavor blends gorgeously with the sweet juice. It would then pour into ice filled cups and quickly passed on to the customer. 

Kumquat for sugarcane juice

Pouring sugarcane juice

Beside the traditional sugarcane juice, there are newer versions attracting endless lines of young Hanoians. New creations include sugarcane coconut juice, sugarcane juice with black pearls, andsugarcane passion fruit juice.

Why You Should Drink Sugarcane Juice?

During our walking street food tours, our clients will sample differrent local produces, such as the famous phoegg coffeebanh mi, and of cause, sugarcane juice. As foodie guides, we’ve received a lots of questions related to Hanoi and what the city has to offer.

Responding to why you should drink sugarcane juice, we would like list out several sugarcane juice benefits as below:

  1. A cup of icy cold sugarcane juice will imediately cool down the body along with giving it a boost of energy.
  2. Sugarcane juice retains all the minerals and vitamins we need, as it’s pressed directly from fresh sugarcanes.
  3. It encourages a smoother functioning of liver and kidney by flushing out the buildup of toxins, and it replenishes the body with the nutrients and proteins.
  4. The water content in sugarcane juice doesn’t only refresh and hydrate your body, but also your skin – by giving it a youthful and radiant look.

Hang Dieu Sugarcane juice

Can You Drink Sugarcane Juice if You Have Diabetes?

Like other high sugar drinks, sugarcane juice is a poor choice if you have diabetes. Its massive amount of sugar could raise your blood sugar levels dangerously. Regardless some articles pointing to possible anti-diabetes effects, sugarcane juice isn’t appropriate for those with diabetes. Thus, we ask those of our clients on Hanoi food tours to avoid this beverage entirely.

Should You Make Sugarcane Juice at Home?

You can find sugarcane juice recipe online and make it at home, but there is a lot of work for a little reward. We’re going to be very honest here. And the taste is nowhere close to the rich, thick, milky juiciness that comes from a freshly pressed sugarcane offered on the street. 

Sugarcane juice just doesn’t keep. The cloudy richness disappears a few minutes after the juice has been pressed, and it turns clear, almost like sugar water, but with a hint of the kumquat. 

In Hanoi’s French Quarter, you can now find sanitised version of sugarcane juice, made by big businesses with well-designed logos. To us, that’s cheating, and you’ll never get the true taste of this delicious juice, unless you have it on from an aged stalls at a street corner with dodgy ice. 

If you’re using a blender, you’ll need to chop the canes into small pieces and add water, which dilutes the juice. It’s still really delicious and so good chilled over ice, but to experience the real deal you want to walk to the street, instead.

Sugarcane juice stall

There are some things in the world that are best tasted where they are, that’s so true to street food. Recreating them is awesome, but the true reward is the bliss one gets when foods and drinks are offered by vendors who spent years on perfecting it.

Where to Buy Sugarcane Juice?

Now you see why you should drink sugarcane juice, and may be wondering where to buy one. Like almost everywhere in Southeast Asia, street vendors bring the world of fresh food and beverage to the corner of your street, and sometimes to your hotel’s door.

Sugarcane juice is not for the fainthearted traveler, though, do go on and try some, nevertheless. Its the staple of the locals and sugarcane stalls are usually found in bustling street corners. They are certainly a taste of Hanoi, with their dusty, plastic jug, icy cold, and tangy sweetness. 

In Hanoi, sugarcane juice is sold on almost every street, you can buy it from any outlet selling “nuoc mia”. Just head to these stalls and ask for a cup. Here are our favorite sugarcane juice stalls:

  • Nuoc Mia Hang Dieu: 77 Hang Dieu Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Nuoc Mia Khong Lo: 61 Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da, Hanoi

Join Flavors of Hanoi’s peronal foodie tour guide on our daily walking Hanoi food tourand explore the best of what the city has to offer. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to keep updated on what’s new and what’s interesting in Hanoi.


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