In the past we’ve written a piece on how to make black grass jelly (aka cincau, suong sao, xian cao, leung fan) at home. That’s what’s more typically available in Asian dessert and bubble tea shops if at all. But there’s a cousin of the black grass jelly, too? That’s right, we’re talking about the green grass jelly.
Green grass jelly, whose scientific name is tiliacora triandra, is native to Southeast Asia. A vine-y plant, it’s used in desserts like the Vietnamese “che” and as thickening agents in soups in other cuisine. In Vietnamese, we call it “suong sam,” in Thai and Laos, “bai yanang,” in Khmer, “voar yeav”. I grew up eating both this and black grass jelly from the can. But we can do better by way of the plant.
A few years ago I got my hands on a live plant at a flea market in Orange County. I also acquired a couple more via eBay and Amazon. It’s a sun-loving plant, and thrives with a lot of water. My dad lives in Seattle and is still able to grow a healthy plant, though. If you don’t want to deal with keeping it alive, you can also buy the harvested leaves.
Contrary to the difficulty level of making black grass jelly, the preparation for green grass jelly takes minutes, and the waiting time a few hours. The drawback if you want to grow the plant is that it needs a ton of sun and is most productive in the spring and summer, though I’ve harvested in the autumn. After I turn the leaves into a jelly, I sprinkle it with some sugar and eat out of the spoon. Mixing in a good coconut cream also makes for a delicious dessert. Alas, you can also use this as a bubble tea topping.
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