I was recently invited to participate at Bartenders Week in Taiwan not too long ago. During that stay, I jumped on a train and travelled south to the historical city of Tainan which I heard a lot of great things about.
I have to say that it felt like I was travelling back in time. The architecture has kept its historical design, while it was fully modernised and comparing Tainan to Taipei, Tainan seems to like to keep the slow piece of life with history and does not hurry for any big changes. As I was wandering around the town, I came across a sizeable green pumpkin that looked like a fruit with pistachio coloured skin, it had juicy flesh – similar texture to a watermelon – commonly known as a winter melon.
Since the winter melon does not have any particular flavour the lady in the shop suggested trying their winter melon tea instead. I figured that it a well known spot in Tainan for winter melon tea. It tasted amazingly nutty with brown sugar deep flavours. There were several different winter melon tea variations based on amount of tea and type of sugar used in the drink.
Winter melons thrive in warm weather with maximum sunshine. The wintermelon is a fruit of the Asian vine crop even though it was first cultivated in ancient Egypt. It was also an old food staple of China. Winter melon was introduced to Europe during the Renaissance. Today it is grown all around the world.
Winter melon is widely used in Asian kitchens. It is prepared using cooking techniques such as steaming, simmering, braising and stir-frying. It is also used in soups, seasoned with strong spices and herbs. All in all, it is treated as a culinary vegetable, and when it is pickled or candied, it is a real delicacy.
Of course, I decided to buy the winter melon tea to experiment with. Here is a recipe for you to try:
Phenix City Fashioned Choices
50 ml Kaoling wine 58
10 ml Winter melon tea syrup
3 dashes Aromatic bitters
Combine all ingredients over ice in mixing glass and stir 15 times. Strain into rocks glass over ice and garnish with slice of orange.
Bartender’s note: “The moment you travel to Taiwan, you shall buys some for your bar.”