Bitter melon is the most bitter of all vegetables. Its bitterness is so distinct that you would know it is what you are eating even with your eyes closed. Its extreme bitterness is enough to make you close your eyes, in the first place. To help you down it in style and with ease, make your own delicious bitter melon tea.
Bitter melon comes by different names such as wild cucumber, bitter gourd, and balsam pear. It grows only in frost-free countries such as China, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and parts of Japan. A cousin of the cucumber, bitter gourd has been traditionally used through the centuries for medicinal concoctions. Westerners may find it difficult downing bitter melon for the first time – or second – or third – but it is too nutritious to ignore. People anywhere in the world should learn to take bitter melon one way or another. This is why the bitter fruit and leaves have taken on several forms including bitter melon tea, juice, tablet, capsule and pill.
The bitter melon fruit is an ugly, acne-afflicted version of the cucumber. Its exterior appearance is as distinct as its taste. It turns yellow to orange when ripe, but becomes much, much more bitter then. The intensity of bitterness may vary from one melon to another, but the least bitter you can find is still bitterer than any other vegetables in your garden.
The bitter melon plant-vine is edible and nutritional from the shoots, leaves, fruit, to its seeds. Bitter melon leaves are used as greens, usually to take the place of spinach.
Make Bitter Melon Tea
Making your own cup of bitter melon tea from bitter melon leaves is easy.
Buy your bunch of leaves from Asian market groceries (where you can also buy bitter melon tea bags). Wash the leaves thoroughly and, if possible, check and clean each leaf. It is a guarantee, though, that bitter melon leaves are free from aphids, caterpillars and other insects as they seem to avoid the bitter taste.
Soak in cold water for just a few minutes.
Use 4 to 5 cups of water to boil the leaves in medium heat. Boil until water turns green. Add more water for more servings or to make it less bitter in flavor.
Pour into a cup and wait for a few minutes to cool. Once done, you can sit back and enjoy your own nutritious cup of bitter gourd tea.
If still too bitter for the Western tongue, a dash of lemon or honey could help. To the trained tongue, the more bitter the concoction, the better, especially for the Chinese who believe that bitter foods are healthy foods.
Doctors prescribe bitter melon in controlling one’s blood sugar level. The bitter fruit-vegetable contains natural insulin-like substances that help lower sugar level in the blood. Bitter melon tea is perfect for people with diabetes. Since diabetes is chronic, take the bitter vegetable’s tea for diabetes management and control.
Other bitter melon tea health benefits include treatment for breast cancer, cholera, hypertension, fungal infections, jaundice, chickenpox, measles, herpes simplex, dysentery, fever, painful menstruation, hemorrhoids, and eye problems. It also purifies blood, improves digestion and could possibly inhibit HIV infection.