What Is Grass Jelly?

Grass jelly, also known as leaf jelly or herb jelly, is a traditional Asian herbal dessert. It is commonly consumed in East and Southeast Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, and Thailand. Grass jelly can be served chilled or at room temperature and is most often used as a jelly-like topping in drinks and desserts, like bubble tea.

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What Does Grass Jelly Taste Like?

Though its taste isn't particularly distinct or overpowering, grass jelly typically displays an herbal taste with a hint of mint. Its mild taste pairs well with honey, syrup, and other sweet ingredients. If you’re making your own grass jelly, the intensity of its flavor is dependant on how you prepare it.

What Is Grass Jelly Made Of?

What is Grass Jelly Made Of?

The main ingredient in grass jelly is a plant called Chinese mesona. The plant is commonly found in East Asian countries such as China and Taiwan, and typically grows in grassy, dry, and sandy areas. It's important to note that both the leaves and the stems of mesona are used as ingredients as you cook. Corn starch and potassium carbonate are also key ingredients in the cooking process.

How to Make Grass Jelly

Making grass jelly is relatively easy to do as long as you have the right ingredients. If you plan on making it the traditional way, it's essential to make sure you have Chinese mesona and corn starch. To make your own grass jelly, follow the steps below:

  1. Begin by drying Chinese mesona in the sun, allowing it to oxidize.
  2. Place the dried stems and leaves in a pot and boil them for a period of up to eight hours.
  3. Add corn starch to the pot to thicken the mixture.
  4. Once your grass jelly has thickened into a gelatinous form, place it in the refrigerator to chill and let the mixture set.

Making grass jelly can be rewarding, but it can also be time-consuming. To save yourself time or streamline the process, consider using products like canned grass jelly or grass jelly powder.

What Is Grass Jelly Powder?

Among the many forms this unique dessert comes in, grass jelly powder is perhaps the easiest to prepare. Rather than preparing the dessert from scratch, grass jelly powder can simply be added to a pot of boiling water and cooled, saving you valuable time in the kitchen. Additionally, it’s important to note that the powder can be used for more than just preparing grass jelly. It can also be added as an ingredient in icing, whipped cream, and other similar products to create a grass jelly flavored topping.

How to Use Grass Jelly

Thanks to its versatile texture and it's multiple forms, grass jelly can be a unique and delicious addition to many recipes. Below, we'll investigate some of the most common ways to use grass jelly:

Grass Jelly Drink

Grass Jelly Drink

Similar to the boba balls found in bubble tea, grass jelly can be served in a mixture of milk, tea, or juice. Grass jelly drinks usually feature cubes or slivers of grass jelly to provide a striking contrast against light-colored milk teas. Not only are these drinks easy to prepare, but grass jelly is lower in calories than boba tea, making jelly boba a healthier type of boba.

Grass Jelly Dessert Bowl

Many Asian cultures feature their own version of a grass jelly dessert bowl, giving you a variety of recipes to choose from. Most include a combination of grass jelly, a simple syrup mixture, milk, and multiple different fruits. Some grass jelly dessert bowls call for popular Asian ingredients such as mochi, which help to add flavor and texture to the dish. Other ingredients that are commonly added to grass jelly dessert bowls include molasses, adzuki beans, and coconut milk.

Grass Jelly Benefits

Grass Jelly Benefits

Though grass jelly is thought of as a dessert, it is commonly believed to offer health and wellness benefits. As with many herbal recipes, it is reported to have medicinal properties. Below, we've listed some of the most common benefits associated with grass jelly:

Grass jelly is a versatile food that has the potential to bring a variety of benefits to your menu. Whether you serve drinks, desserts, or anything in between, consider serving grass jelly in your restaurant or coffee shop to take advantage of this unique herbal dessert.

By Jason Kurtz
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