When I was growing up in the lychee producing regions of China, summer starts when lychee season starts!
Fresh lychees are notoriously difficult to transport and store. So turning them into alcoholic drinks is a great way of extending their shelf-life and offering alternative ways to enjoy them.
For the 9th June edition of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch programme, I introduced three different but delicious lychee drinks – a lychee wine from Mauritius, a lychee gin from England and a lychee brandy from China! Although lychee is native to China, it is now popular all around the world. With these drinks I hope to show its diversity, in style and in origin.
Details of the drinks and stockists can be found here on Channel 4’s website.
Divine Lychee Wine – 12% ABV. Made in Mauritius (UK stockist)
This delicate and light lychee wine has an off-dry profile, with aromas of fresh lychee, honeysuckle, rose, kiwi, pineapple.
To make the wine, fresh lychees are peeled and stoned before being pressed to extract the juice. Yeast is then added to the filtered juice and after two to three weeks of fermentation, plus three weeks clarification, the finished wine is then bottled.
The wine was launched in 2012 after 80 years of trial and error, by the great-grandfather of the current winery owner. This wine uses the Tai So variety that is grown locally.
Lychee Gin, Copper in the Clouds, 20% ABV., Made in England (UK stockist)
I also served zongzi on the show with the lychee brandy — as it was the Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu) weekend. Zongzi is a glutinous rice parcel wrapped in bamboo or pandan leaf – often with sweet or savoury fillings. It is eaten widely during the Duan Wu festival. Here is the Victualist recipe.