I guess Luo Han Guo (arhat fruit) is no stranger to many Chinese as traditionally, it has been used extensively to remedy body heatiness and irritating coughs!
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Even though i had read somewhere that Guangxi province (of which Guilin belongs to) produces the fruits, i had absolutely no intention to bring them back to Singapore for the following two reasons; i can get them in Singapore and not many people of my age know how to prepare the drink in its original state.
Nevertheless, in my recent trip to the Chinese province, the tour guide started talking about the benefits of Luo Han Guo during one of the long bus journeys; i was honestly expecting some cock and bull stories as heard in my Beijing trip but this tour guide didn't mention anything about the impoverished minorities and cajole us to support them financially by buying the products. No, he was simply introducing a product he likes and if we want, we can buy from him. Period.
Anyway, he shared with us the advantages of luo han guo (especially for those who talk a lot; like me) and that conventional luo han guo was toasted over charcoal (hence the black sheen as seen in medicinal halls in Singapore). The ones in Guangxi were sun and wind dried and featured a light yellow colour.
To cater to a younger crowd who enjoys convenience, the luo han guo product he was recommended only consisted of the seeds with pulp and could be easily made with just plain water, even cold water! One piece like the above can be used for 3 liters of water! Alternatively, you can break them up into smaller pieces for a smaller cup.
A sampling was of course required as most of us could not take words at face value and this was merely the third day of the trip for which we were that familiar with the guide; no offense.
Using the complimentary mineral water taken from the hotel, this was my sample which had around a third of the fruit from the vacuum pack.
Leave it for about ten minutes and it was ready to drink! The taste was surprisingly quite light but didn't have that strong herbalness in the brewed version. The pulp can be eaten although you may want to leave the bitter seeds alone!
Packaging as above - one packet has nine vacuum packs and cost RMB 60 (about S$15); buy ten packets and you would get two free (i think). As it was still early in the trip, i bought only two packets. You can find similar products in commercial outfits along shopping streets with the price ranging from RMB 50 - 75.
To read more on my Guilin trip, please click here.