Toddy is undoubtedly a must-have beverage on your visit to Kerala. It is also known as Palm Wine but many like to call it Coconut Vodka. The refreshing, mildly alcoholic beverage is prepared by fermenting the sap of coconut or palm flowers. It tastes best when stored in mud vessels and complements the spicy delicacies of South India. In Kerala, roughly 50,000 people work in the toddy industry.

The Spectacular Skills of a Toddy Tapper

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The whole experience of toddy tapping is a treat to watch. Only strong, flexible and sure-footed men qualify as toddy tappers. But why? You'll see.

A coconut tree is about 70 feet tall and the flowers are right at the treetop. A toddy tapper needs to climb all the way to the top and he does so in a matter of seconds with a piece of simple equipment tied around the waist. It is quite a thrilling sight to watch him climb the tree. Sometimes, a toddy tapper ties ropes between trees and walks on the tightrope, going from one treetop to another. It's quite a risky business. But there are a few who do it, covering some 30 trees at once before getting down. Although this can be dangerous, they do it in order to save time and energy.  

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Once a toddy tapper reaches the treetop, he ties a container to the flower stump and makes a small cut in the flowers. The sap starts flowing into the container. From a single tree, sometimes 2 to 5 litres of sap is extracted. The fresh sap called ‘Neera’ is sweet, lukewarm and non-alcoholic. It may be refrigerated and sold as a sweet drink.

But for toddy to form, the sap has to be fermented. Once the sap is collected into the container, it starts fermenting very quickly because of the natural yeasts in the air. In about two hours, toddy is formed. It is sweet, slightly pungent and has 4% alcohol content. Toddy may be allowed to ferment further to make the drink stronger. The more it ferments, the stronger it becomes. But if it is allowed to ferment for more than a day, then it starts getting sour and tastes like vinegar. Some like it sour, but you may have to think twice before tasting the sour drink. So before it gets sour, most of the toddy is sold, consumed or preserved in a refrigerator.

Visit a Local Toddy Shop

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To relish Kerala's iconic beverage in the perfect environment, you need to visit a toddy shop. A local toddy shop in Kerala has a typical village-like atmosphere with locals coming with their gang of friends to enjoy toddy together. When you visit a toddy shop, you get an amazing opportunity to interact with the locals. Laugh with them, struggle to understand them and relish a glass of toddy with them! And don’t forget to order some non-veg snacks. The hot and spicy non-veg delicacies of Kerala taste heavenly with a glass of toddy. The locals love to have fried fish and boiled tapioca with toddy. Take bites of the spicy snack and sips of the cold and refreshing drink in the beautiful surroundings of coconut trees. It’s an unforgettable experience. Have a look at the Top 10 Toddy Shops in Kerala

We offer our guests an opportunity to watch toddy tapping in our day tours. Please take a look at our list of backwaters tours!

If you are visiting Cochin on a cruise ship and want to enjoy a toddy tapping experience in Kerala, get in touch with the team at Cochin Shore Excursions. Take a look at the day tours they offer.!

And if you also want to travel to other parts of Kerala and enjoy other experiences in the land along with toddy tapping, please contact the team at Experience Kerala Holiday Planners. This local tour operator is known for offering a complete experience of Kerala since the team is made up of local experts. Take a look at the itinerary plans they have on offer!