Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thai drinks

A little cafe just behind an aromatherapy store

Thai style grass jelly with milk

Thai style grass jelly with brown sugar

Thai style ice Lemon tea with lemon grass (right) and lime with brown sugar (left)

Grass jelly is a popular drink in Asia. It is made from boiling the leaves and stalks of the Mesona chinensis plant (part of the mint family) with potassium carbonate and starch, then cooled to form a jelly like substance. Grass jelly has cooling (yin) properties and this makes it an ideal drink in hot Asian countries.

It is interesting to find how different countries in Asia serve grass jelly. In Singapore, black strands of grass jelly (known as chin chow locally) is commonly served with soya bean milk and locals call it the "Micheal Jackson drink". This is in reference to both his popular black or white song and his changing skin colour.

In Thailand, grass jelly is known as chao kuay and is commonly served with just ice and natural brown sugar or alternatively, with just milk and brown sugar.  Had both the Thai versions at a very popular Chatuchak stall and it was refreshing after a long day of shopping.  
Chatuchak Chao-Kuay Boran
(Section 3, Room 202 and 214, Soi 3, 02-542-0732, 08-6568-7025. Open Sat-Sun 10am-7pm)

Lemon grass is another popular herb in Thai cooking and even the ice lemon tea at McDonalds in Bangkok was flavoured with it. The herb is also useful for presentation. I loved the way my ice lemon tea was presented at a  local Thai restaurant. It came with an orange straw and a lemon grass artistically cut at an angle. The beautiful colour combination makes it look like a carrot and celery stick from afar.

Another memorable "drinking hole" in Chatuchak is a cafe just behind an aromatherapy shop. After a whiff of the wonderful, calming scent of essential oils, relax with a refreshing blend of flowery tea on quaint garden benches with chill out music playing in the background.
Lann Cha
(Section 3, Room 122-123, Soi 3, 02-513-0145/6. Open Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9:30am-7pm).

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