Bitter Melon Tropical Tea
Momordica charantia is not called bitter melon for nothing. It is a unique plant, a fast growing vine with strong and flexible tendrils and really bitter-tasting fruit marked with deep and numerous bumps and ridges. It has been compared to a cucumber with an extremely bad case of chicken pox. It does resemble the crisp, crunchy and watery mouth feel of a cucumber but the resemblance ends there. The bitter melon is hollow and full of seeds encased in pulp that turn from white to red as the fruit ripens.
Bitter melon fans do not let the fruit get to the over ripe stage where it turns yellow, since the unique taste of the fruit is lost. The fruit's bitterness has made it a prized vegetable among many Asians who believe that the bitter melon whets their appetite and prepares them for a good meal. It is an acquired taste but over hundreds of years, they have grown fond of that culinary edge. In the Philippines both the fruit and the young, still tender leaves are used in cooking-sauteed with meat or shrimps or added to traditional and hearty vegetable stews. If you want to, you can reduce the fruit's bitterness by soaking the sliced bitter melon in cold salted water for a few minutes before cooking.
Its origin cannot be traced now; but the bitter melon can be found in abundance in India, China and Southeast Asia. In the Philippines the tough vines are still a common feature in backyard gardens in both rural and urban communities. The bitter melon can survive in poor soil and grows even when planted in large pots or recycled plastic containers. The Indian bitter melon is white or green, narrow and more sharply ridged while the Chinese bitter melon is thicker and features gentler ridges. The Philippine's wild bitter melon is smaller and darker green and far more potent than its larger, smoother and paler green cousins.
It is the leaves and young fruit of this powerful and potent variety that goes into the making of Neuleaf Bitter Melon Tea. People believe that its bitterness is proof of its life enhancing qualities.