Tuba is a coconut wine made in the Philippines.
It is considered a rural drink, because it has a short shelf life. It is not sold in stores or in restaurants.
It is made from coconut tree sap. One tree can produce two to four quarts / liters of Tuba a day.
The sap is drawn from a bud on the coconut tree’s inflorescence (its floral branches, called the “sawak.”) The floral branch is wrapped in a material such as rattan, then tapped on the edges so as to bruise its insides, and then bent and tied pointing downward, a little more each day so as not to break it. Up to three of these buds can be milked at one time from a tree without harming the tree.
When a floral branch is bending halfway down, the tip of it is sliced open. In two to three days, sap will start dripping from the tip, about one drop per second. The sap is collected in vessels called “sogong”, which are covered otherwise to keep rain and bugs out.
The vessels are checked in the mornings, and the cut re-done everyday so that it doesn’t seal itself. After two months, the supply of sap will dry up permanently.
A person who gathers the sap is called a “manananggot.”
The sap is sweet. Powdered mangrove tree bark (called “tungog”) is dropped in to colour it red and to tarten the taste, then the sap is filtered to get the bark out. If no bark is added, the Tuba is called “lina”, and is sweeter.
The sap can be drunk fresh, or fermented. The fermentation happens naturally within a matter of days, and carbonates the drink.
The sooner the Tuba is drunk, the better, and it should be refrigerated to extend its shelf life. It starts to sour after two to three days. For about two weeks after that, it is called “bahal”, and is strongly alcoholic.
Past that, it is useful just as a vinegar called “suka bisaya.”
Tuba can also be used to make a stronger alcoholic drink called “lambanug.” The Tuba is let ferment for five days, then distilled. Three-hundred gallons (1,135 litres) of sap are needed to make one gallon of lambanug.
Tuba is also made in Mexico. In Mexico, it is often flavoured with chile, lemon, pineapple, etc.
Connor, Patrick. The Philippines: The Word in the World 1979. Techny, Illinois: Society of the Divine Word.
Philippine Coconut Authority. Coconut – Tree of Life. 2005. Retrieved November 2009 from http://pca.da.gov.ph/tol.html