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Notable Nosh: Honey White Gourd Drink (蜂蜜冬瓜茶)

White Gourd Drink 1

As I was leaving a grocery store in Ottawa’s Chinatown recently, I happened to spy this interesting beverage in a cooler by the door and couldn’t resist giving it a try…

Although the English name of the main ingredient is ‘white gourd’ the Chinese characters translate as ‘Honey Winter Melon Tea’. The word ‘melon’ suggests a very sweet, succulent fruit in English, of course, but in Chinese, the term incorporates a far wider range of produce (a cucumber is a ‘yellow melon’, for example). I have yet to cook with the winter melon (I haven’t seen them in stores this far north), but they appear quite often in a number of Chinese dishes (soups and stir-fries especially) and are very much a savory, rather than sweet ingredient.

The ingredients for this Taiwanese product appear on the can as: Water, White Gourd, Sugar, Honey, and Caramel Flavor. On tasting, it however, I got no sense that I was drinking the juice of a vegetable . Indeed, the dominant taste was a blend of honey, caramel and, for some unaccountable reason, a slight hint of the overly rich synthetic hazelnut flavor one encounters in some commercial coffee blends. I can’t say I enjoyed it very much as there was no acidity to balance out the rather thick sweetness, and it wasn’t a drink that I can imagine being all that refreshing on a hot day. I won’t bother buying it again, I don’t think, but, hey… if you don’t try these things, how will you ever know?

Anyway, on a related note, about an hour after buying this drink, I happened to come across some actual winter melon in the produce section of another store not far away. If my travel plans permitted it, I would have happily bought one or two as this was the first time I have ever seen them outside of a restaurant and I would love to give them a try in my own kitchen. Next trip to Ottawa, perhaps…

 

 

 

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am glad you are interested in winter melon. I have posted at least one post on winter melon boiler . See if you are interested making it.

    March 29, 2013
    • I like the idea of using the melon skin as a bowl!

      March 29, 2013
      • But it is not easy. Try it and let us know!

        March 30, 2013
  2. I’m actually quite fond of this drink. The ones I’ve had don’t have honey in it though. Not sure if that’s why it’s overly sweet. Glad you gave it a try though. When I first had this drink, I was also reluctant too. Really –what the heck is a white gourd? Cheers!

    March 29, 2013
    • It wasn’t so much a sugar sweet as it was a flavouring sweet (if that makes sense). The curious ‘hazelnut’ flavor was rather cloying.

      March 29, 2013
  3. I used to have piles of this stuff around as a kid, but don’t recall what it tastes like. My drink of choice was the grass jelly stuff.

    April 7, 2013

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  1. Source: Manphong Supermarket – Ottawa | Sybaritica

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