Never mind if you cannot visit Taiwan yet to get its popular brown sugar winter melon tea.
With a little effort, you can make your own at home.
It also makes for a heartwarming gift to include in a care package for family and friends.
The name of this summer crop purportedly comes from its ability to be stored well into winter. Every part of the melon is used, whether for food or as medicine.
Winter melon is easily available here. It is usually sold in slices as the entire melon is huge.
Boiling winter melon tea is not as simple as throwing the melon into a pot with some water and boiling it as you would with soup.
The key to harnessing all that goodness within is slow-cooking the melon in its own juices until you get a concentrate.
The amount of sugar used seems alarming, but remember, we are making a concentrate which has to be diluted with water before consumption.
Keep the concentrate refrigerated in an airtight container and it should easily last up to two weeks.
Or pour the concentrate into an ice-cube tray and freeze it for later use.
Try the recipe and taste the difference between a homemade brew and commercially canned winter melon tea.
• Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo
• Follow Straits Times Food on Instagram and Facebook @straitstimesfood
BROWN SUGAR WINTER MELON TEA
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CONCENTRATE
1.5kg winter melon
250g brown sugar
100g rock sugar
1. Rinse the winter melon.
2. Cut into cubes of 1.5cm by 1.5cm, including the melon skin and seeds.
3. Place the cubes into a non-stick pot.
4. Add the brown sugar to the melon. Mix well.
5. Leave to sit for an hour until the melon emits liquid.
6. Heat the pot over lowest heat.
7. Add the rock sugar.
8. Allow the winter melon and sugar mixture to cook over low heat for 90 minutes. Stir intermittently.
9. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
10. Filter the mixture using a cheese or muslin cloth and squeeze out the liquid by hand.
11. Place the squeezed pulp in a sieve. Use the back of a ladle to mash the pulp to extract any remaining liquid.
12. Transfer the liquid concentrate into an airtight container for storage in the fridge if not using immediately.
Yields 250ml of liquid concentrate
INGREDIENTS FOR THE TEA
50ml brown sugar winter melon concentrate
3 to 4 cubes of ice
(Optional) Sprig of mint or slice of lemon
1. Add the concentrate to a glass.
2. Pour in water and stir well.
3. Add ice cubes. Garnish with mint or lemon if using and serve.