Winter melon punch
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Winter melon punch, also called Winter Melon “Tea” in east Asia, is a sweetened fruit drink with a very distinctive taste. Winter melon punch can be found at many stores and street vendors in Taiwan. The preparation process itself is very simple and inexpensive, making this folk beverage extremely popular in homes as well as on the streets.
The winter melon picked should be plump enough to hold sufficient flesh and juice. The winter melon is then later on peeled, sliced, and its seeds are completely removed. The winter melon slices are stirred and cooked in boiling water with brown sugar and caramel for many hours. This mixture of soup will be filtered by net or gauze, ridding it of the dregs and impurities. Once the clean, brown liquid cools completely, it is then refrigerated, canned and sold as concentrated winter melon punch. It can also be dehydrated and cut into solid cubes known and sold as winter melon punch cubes.
A sugar free version of the winter melon punch is made for patients suffering from nephropathy and diabetes. In this variation, the cooking process is the same except that only the melon slices and water are boiled to make the mixture.
Different flavors of winter melon punch appear throughout Taiwan. People may add lemon juice, oolong tea or many other drinks to it according to their preferences to make mixed drinks or even cocktails. To transfer this popular beverage into snack food, many street vendors add tapioca balls, nata de coco, or tangyuan to winter melon punch and sell it in bowls.