If you have not tried lychee fruit yet, you must hear of the lychee flavor. It is such a unique taste that can be remembered super quickly. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about lychee! We will learn the basics, the taste, how to pick ripe ones, how to peel, storage tips, and recipe ideas.
What Is Lychee Fruit?
Tough and scaly on the outside, soft, juicy, and absolutely delicious on the inside. Yes, we’re talking about lychee, a wondrous fruit with a long and colorful history.
Litchi Chinensis or Lychee is a delicious fruit belonging to the soapberry family, also known as Sapindaceae. The lychee tree is evergreen and can reach a height ranging from anywhere between 30-100 feet, native to China. It has a super thick and ugly-looking peel pinkish-red hue with dimples that protects its soft and juicy flesh.
Unlike many other tropical fruits, lychee isn’t climacteric. This means that it doesn’t keep on ripening after being removed from the tree. Therefore the lychee fruit should only be plucked when it has fully ripened. A fully ripened lychee fruit will have a vibrant pink or red color depending on the type.
What Does Lychee Taste Like?
General taste: the first taste for me is super juicy with a combination of sweet and faint tanginess When you remove its inedible shell, pure white and creamy flesh is revealed. The flavor of lychee isn’t overly sweet, rather it has a subtle sweetness paired with a hint of tartness. Some of the variations have a higher sugar content and thus you may fail to find the sour taste.
Aroma: the lychee fruit has a lovely floral note that makes it stand out for drinks and beverages. When mixed with tea or sparkling water, it will bring a floral note to the whole glass.
Texture comparison: I would love to compare it to both strawberries and over-ripped pears in texture. It shares some similarities with grapes too in terms of the transparency of flesh.
When lychee is in season
Lychee season commences in May or June and the trees keep bearing fruit until September. Therefore lychee can be enjoyed fresh in the summer when it becomes a refreshing source of both taste and nutrition.
But for those who couldn’t enjoy lychee during the summer, fret not! Because lychee is commercially canned on a massive scale. Canned lychees allow us to enjoy the magical taste of lychees throughout the year! It can be used to replace fresh lychee in most of the dishes and recipes.
Where does lychee come from
You may wonder where lychee comes from. It is native to the southern provinces of China, where it has been cultivated since the early 11th century. However, unofficial records date the origins of lychee back to 2000 BC. Lychee was first introduced in Europe by a Jesuit missionaryMichal Boym in 1656. Today it is being cultivated around the world in countries like; Vietnam, Madagascar, India, South Africa, and Pakistan.
Fresh lychees are not only insanely delicious but are also great for your health. It is carrying vitamins, especially vitamin C, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that can help protect your body from disease and improve your overall health. Besides, it is widely loved for boosting immunity, fighting infection, and reducing inflammation.
How to eat and peel lychee
You can eat lychee raw as a fruit. The process is quite simple, peel off the skin and remove the seeds and enjoy.
I will share with you my way of peeling lychee.
- Watch your lychee from top to bottom, then you will find a small sunken strip in the middle. Sometimes the color can be different on the sides. We will work on this strip to separate it.
- Then hold the fruit in the left hand, keeping the bottom downside. Use both thumbs to press on the two sides of the strips, in two different directions. You can easily break a small opening in the middle. Then both hands separate the shell from opposite sides.
- You can remove the shell quickly in this way. Then remember to remove the seeds after getting the white flesh.
In most cases, we only need to peel the skin, break the flesh and remove the seeds. However, there is still a way of keeping the shape of the flesh so you can use it as decoration.
Repeat the process of breaking an opening along with the line and then peel half of the skin only. Insert a straw, rotate it around to separate the seeds from the flesh, and then take it out with a clip. The well-kept flesh can be used as a container for other ingredients including yogurt, sorbet, and even ice creams.
Use a straw to separate the flesh from the seeds
Other ideas for using lychee. In general, it can be used in tea, boba milk tea, ice creams, salad, or desserts.
Lychee, Lime, and Coconut Popsicles
This popsicle recipe is a trifecta between the creaminess of coconut, the sweetness of lychee, and the zesty flavor of lime.
Lychee boba is an insanely refreshing Taiwanese milk tea! Made with just three simple ingredients, lychee boba is very easy to make. All you need is black tea, chilled milk, and lychee syrup.
Lychee Iced Tea
Lychee can be great with almost all types of tea. Black lychee tea and green lychee tea are two of my favorites.
Pick some other fruit and make a lovely fruit salad bowl. It adds lovely white cream color to other colorful fruits.
Lychee or lychee syrup are two popular ingredients for cocktails. You may hear of lychee flavor drinks many times.
It can also be used to make lychee martinis, with lemon, vodka, and syrup. Whole peeled lychee flesh is commonly used as decorations.
Next time, if you want to make a unique smoothie, add some fresh lychee. It can pair with other fruits like bananas, pears and grapes.
If you buy a small batch, freshly harvested Lychee can be stored at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.
For larger batches, you can store them in the fridge for 1 week or so.
Freezing can be also used to keep lychee. Lots of fruit can taste super great after freezing. This is the same with lychee too. before freezing it should always be placed inside a sealed plastic container. This is because exposure to cold air can cause its skin to turn brown. Lychees can safely be frozen and consumed for about 1 or 2 months. You can make lychee sorbet directly with frozen lychee.
Lychee vs Longan
Both lychee and longan are native to China and they are lots of similarities. The same white flesh and black seeds inside. But Lychee is much sweeter than Longan with a stronger floral aroma.
Lychee Vs rambutan
Another fruit that should talk about is rambutan. Because the fleshes are quite similar, juicy, creamy white, and sweet. Lychee is native to China, while rambutan is native to Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The shell is different. Lychee shells are with bumps while rambutan fruit has hairs.
The taste is still different too, lychee has a much denser sweet taste and a stronger aroma.
Iced Lychee Tea
Iced lychee green tea
- 2 g jasmine green tea leaf , or 1 tea bag
- 6-8 fresh lychee , or canned
- 1/4 cup hot water , use flitered water
- ice cubes
Iced lychee black tea
- 1 black tea bag
- 6-8 fresh lychee , or canned
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 4 slices lime
- 1 tbsp. syrup of choice
- ice cubes
Iced green tea
- I use loose jasmine tea leaves and a red tea bag. Place 2g of jasmine tea leaves in a pot.
- Add filtered hot water to steep the tea for 3-5 minutes. Get the liquid only and set it aside to cool down.
- Peel the lychee fruit and remove the seeds. Once you have enough fruits, add the lychees to a large shaker. Muddle the lychee and then add ice cubes, and cooled green tea liquid. Shake well and transfer to serving glass cups.
Iced black tea
- Place 1 bag of black tea, pour in hot boiling water and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Get the liquid only and set it aside to cool down.
- Peel the lychee fruit and remove the seeds. Once you have enough fruits, add the lychees to a large shaker. Add lime slices and then muddle well. Add ice cubes, syrup and cooled black tea liquid. Shake well and transfer to serving cups.
No, lychee isn’t poisonous. But, there is a slight amount of toxins in the lychee seeds, so it’s better to avoid consuming the seeds as they can harm the body
In some areas, another name for lychee is alligator strawberry.
How To Pronounce Lychee?
“lit-chi”, or “lichi” are the two accurate ways of pronouncing the word lychee In Chinese. But in English, it is either pronounced as “lai-chee”.
Ripe lychee has strong aroma, with brighter color and is much weight than unriped ones.
Lychee is a fruit with quite a long history. What does lychee taste like? It tastes sweet, juicy, and tarty. Once combined with other ingredients like tea, desserts, or smoothie, it can improve the overall taste greatly.