sliced centre of Momordica fruit
Momordica tea - I must admit I had not heard of it until I met a fellow traveller in China recently, and she told me about it. In fact, rather than try to describe it, she sourced some for me in Sydney and sent me some to try.
The Momordica or "lo han kuo" is a small gourd-like fruit having an intensely sweet taste, widely used by the South Chinese as a household remedy for colds, sore-throat, and minor stomach and intestinal troubles. In the early fall, Momordica fruit is yellowish-red and found in the south of China. Naturally sweet and delicious. Momordica has been nicknamed "longevity fruit" in China because it is believed that prolonged consumption will result in a long life. The fruit's shape is said to imitate the belly of a Buddha and its names include arhat fruit, Buddha fruit and monk fruit. The fruit is sometimes mistaken for the purple mangosteen, but these fruits are unrelated. The interior fruit is eaten fresh, and the bitter rind is used to make tea.
|Momordica fruit - inside|
As the three fruits I had were all dried, I made tea. I had no idea of what quantities, so I used just one fruit rind for a large cup and steeped it for about five minutes and strained it. I quite enjoyed the tea - it was slightly sweet but obviously did not really have the taste of tea leaves. I then wrapped some eucalypt leaves and some of the fruit rind in cloth and boiled it for a couple of hours. Although the tea was a rich golden colour, the resulting “dye” was a little disappointing.
|Momordica rind wrapped in cotton fabric|
|Momordica tea and eucalypt leaves - eco dyed cotton and silk.|