Grass Jelly (Cincau) is a traditional Chinese herbal dessert that is delicious by itself or enjoyed in boba drinks. Learn the benefits and how to make this at home.
Cincau is a sweet dessert that is commonly consumed by Asian countries like Hong Kong, Southern China, and Taiwan. Traditionally it is created from boiling leaves or stems from mesona plants and a small amount of cornstarch or rice flour to make this herbal dessert.
However, this method of cooking is difficult to process. That is why we use grass jelly powder to save our time in cooking. To make this Chinese dessert, we have tested it several times, and it turned out delicious!
It is most commonly added to bubble tea, boba, fruit salad, and many more. So, try this out at home with your family and friends!
What is Grass Jelly Made Out Of?
Cincau is also known as leaf or herb jelly that is a traditional herbal dessert among Asians. The main ingredient that is used to make this herbal dessert topping is a plant named Chinese mesona.
This grass jelly plant is cultivated in many East Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. They usually grow in dry, grassy, and sandy areas. The cincau is black-brown looking gelatine that has a mildly bitter taste and is mostly eaten with milk or some syrup.
It is essential to note that mesona leaves and stem are used for cooking. Potassium and cornstarch are the key ingredients you need to add to make cincau.
According to studies, grass jelly is often used to help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and protect our body against liver disease and diabetes.
Though it's a dessert, it is commonly believed to offer health and wellness benefits.
- It helps to promote digestive system function as the sugar compounds have the ability to defeat the bacteria that causes stomach pain. It is also highly effective in preventing diarrhoea, constipation and relieves stomach pain and heartburn.
- Moreover, the herb contains necessary antioxidants that can eliminate tumour cells in the liver, lung, breast, kidneys, liver, and cervical cancer.
- Grass jelly ingredients contains vitamins like A, B1, C and phosphorus, fibre, calcium, and carbohydrates that are low in calories. All the nutrients are perfect for a weight loss diet as you can control your hunger and excessive eating.
- It helps control the high blood sugar levels of diabetics. It does not cause any problems with insulin spikes.
- This Asian ingredient is a cool remedy for fever and sore throat as it contains anti toxin compounds which are capable of treating symptoms like fever.
- It can go through the digestive tract smoothly, which helps digestive it properly.
- You can prevent vertigo diseases, digestive tract, chronic gastritis, hypertension, and cholesterol if you have this herbal dessert.
Grass Jelly Side Effects
- To enhance the taste of cincau, people tend to add more sugar to it. Adding more sugar to it may contribute to diabetes, weight gain, and many more.
- People tend to add colouring to make the boba topping more aesthetically appealing but be cautious as to whether they are natural or not.
Grass jelly has a mild and slightly bitter taste with a hint of mint. The bitter taste is common among herbal plants that are made into food. Cincau has a mild taste that pairs perfectly with maple syrup, honey, and other sweet ingredients.
People have the herbal cincau served with ice cubes and milk to cool themselves from the summer heat from time to time. It is delicious and refreshing almost every Asian loves it.
But if you want to experience this classic Chinese dessert in outside countries like the USA, UK, etc., you mostly have it out of canned versions.
Yeo's Grass Jelly Can Drink
If you are making this boba topping at home, the flavour intensity will completely depend on how you prepare it.
How to Enjoy
You can enjoy grass jelly desserts in whatever way you like based on your personal taste and diet. You can create your own version with this recipe. Here are some of the suggestions to enjoy this bubble tea topping at home.
- You can add the cubed desserts into your bubble tea together with other boba toppings like crystal boba. This grass jelly bubble tea is very tasty, and you can enjoy it on summer days.
- You can add them as a topping in cold coffee or milk tea, or regular vegan chilled milk. Some of the vegan milk options are soy milk, coconut milk, etc.
- You can add other fruit toppings in the drink with jelly-like mango, banana, papaya, dragon fruit, and many more!
- You can add cincau to the fruit salad dessert and enjoy it as a healthy meal.
The key ingredient of this recipe is grass jelly powder packs that are found in almost any Asian grocery section, usually categorized as a baking section. You can see some of the packages of the cincau powder including a small amount of sugar and banana essence. You can add the banana essence or other fruit essence you choose to add during the last minute of cooking.
Alternatively, you can also use dried grass jelly herbs which will give you a more authentic and stronger flavour. However, this is typically harder to find overseas.
Cornstarch is a must thing to add to this recipe to make the jelly firmer. You can substitute it with rice flour. You can find them in any grocery store near you.
If you are thinking of a healthier alternative to sugar, then you can add honey, maple syrup, and cane sugar. You can get this from any grocery store and online shop.
How to Make Grass Jelly
- Combine 100g of cincau powder with 3 tbsp. of sugar and 10 to 20 grams of cornstarch together in 300ml water. Stir the mixture to dissolve properly.
- Heat the 700ml water to a boil and stir in the mixture slowly. Continue heating it for 2 to 3 minutes until you get bubbles on the surface.
- Take the mixture out and let it cool down for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge. Enjoy!
- To make the cincau firmer, you can add more cornstarch. The more firm your grass jelly will be, the easier it is to take it out of the mould without breaking.
- When you see the mixture is lumpy while cooking, simply stirs it with a whisk until smooth.
- While cooking, make sure the mixture stirs well, including scraping the bottom of the pan to mix the powder properly. The jelly powder has the tendency to sit down at the bottom of the pan if you don't stir.
- Always set the temperature to medium or medium-high while cooking the cincau mixture, as high temperatures can make it worse.
- You need to cool the cincau mixture at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then you can transfer it to the refrigerator to set the cincau properly.
- You can also follow the grass jelly powder instructions from the package and this recipe to understand the add-on better.
- While adding the cooked cincau mixture to the bowl, pop any bubbles with a toothpick or skim it with a spoon.
- To make into cubes, put the jelly on the cutting board and use a small wavy knife to cut them into small pieces. If your cincau is soft, you may also just cut them in the bowl.
Grass Jelly | Chinese Vegan Dessert
- 100 g grass jelly powder
- 10 g cornstarch
- 4 tablespoon sugar
- 1000 ml water
- First, combine the powder, cornstarch, and sugar and add 300ml water to dissolve.
- In a saucepan, boil 700ml of water while slowly stirring the mixture into the water. Continue heating the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes over medium-high temperature.
- Transfer the grass jelly mixture to a heat-safe dish or bowl. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before transferring it to the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
- The ratio of powder to water may depend on the brand and type of powder used. Some are more concentrated and require very little powder to make a big bowl of cincau. Do check the packaging of the cincau powder and adjust accordingly.
- If you notice that the cincau mixture becomes thick and lumpy, use a whisk and stir quickly. This is to make the mixture smooth and is free from lumps.
- For a stronger flavour, you can also use dried grass jelly herbs.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Ailin Bakery House has a great video on how to prepare this dessert at home. They also show different ways you can serve the cincau dessert with peaches, longan and a dash of milk.
How To Store
- You can store the cincau in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- The process of freezing and thawing can damage the structure of the gel. So, avoid keeping them in the freezer.
This popular cube dessert is a cooling food that expels excessive heat from your body in summer to make you feel comfortable. That is why this jelly is mostly eaten on hot days across Asia. Moreover, you can see this herbal cincau in most Asian drinks or desserts, as it is very healthy.
Grass jelly has cooling properties that can even make you comfortable during fever and a cough. Aside from that, it has multiple nutritional elements that can defend our bodies from diseases. With all these potential healthy sides of this amazing Chinese dessert, you should try this at home!
Did you make your own herbal boba topping? Share with us by tagging us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks!
Looking for another dessert boba topping to try making at home? Check out our recipe on how to prepare egg pudding custard for your bubble tea!