If you’ve yet to try lychee soda, you may be missing out — not just on a tasty and refreshing beverage and possible favorite new addition to your mocktails and cocktails but also on some health benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about lychee, lychee soda and how to use both.
What is Lychee?
Before we get into lychee soda, let’s cover the basics of lychee.
Pronounced “lai-chi” or “lee-chee,” depending on where you’re from, the tropical fruit is more popular in Asian cuisine, but it’s been making appearances on American menus and in American groceries stores in more recent history.
Lychee grows in southern China natively on trees. Lychee looks a little bit like a raspberry or strawberry, though, even if you won’t find this fruit on a bush. Lychees are small and red, and feature a bumpy exterior, which reveals a white or nearly clear fruit beneath, tucked around a seed. They are sometimes grown in hotter areas of the United States, so you may be able to find them fresh and local if you live in the right spot. Otherwise, you’ll have to rely on imported lychee.
You can buy lychees peeled and canned, but if you buy them whole, you can peel them at home, much like you would an orange, peeling back the skin to reveal the fruit underneath. The riper the lychee, the easier it is to peel. Make sure not to eat the seed! You can remove the seed by hand or spit it out, like you might when eating seeded grapes or cherries.
How Does Lychee Taste?
Lychee is slightly sweet and slightly floral, with citrus undertones. Think a mix between a strawberry and rose water, but with a bit of acid. Lychee has also been compared to pears and watermelon.
How Can You Use Lychee?
If you want to actually use your lychee beyond eating them plain, you can add them just about anywhere you might use similar tropical fruits. These fruits are commonly added to fruit salads, smoothies, cocktails or other cold drinks, ice creams, sorbets, teas, desserts, etcetera.
However you use your lychee, though, be sure to use it quickly, as, after peeling, it can deteriorate before you know it— usually in less than a week.
Lychee Health Benefits
Like most fruits, lychee is filled with vitamins and antioxidants that make it a healthful addition to your diet. Also, like many fruits, lychee is filled with water; each piece of fruit is made up of more than 80% water.
Lychee is high in vitamins C and B, copper, potassium and antioxidants such as epicatechin and rutin. Epicatechin is suspected of helping improve heart health and reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes. Rutin is likewise suspected to prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Overall, not many studies have been done to pinpoint the exact health benefits one can expect from eating lychee, but you can definitely benefit from the known vitamins, copper and potassium found in lychee, as well as just the simple addition of extra fruit to your diet.
What is Lychee Soda?
So now that you know a little bit more about lychee, what’s there to know about lychee soda?
Essentially, lychee soda is like a carbonated beverage with lychee added. Think a sparkling water drink with added fruit juice. As these have become more popular, so has lychee soda, even though, previously, you may have only found lychee soda in Asian countries such as Japan or China.
You can make lychee soda at home but also buy lychee drinks online.
Homemade lychee soda
To make lychee soda at home, this recipe recommends combining fresh or canned lychee with soda water, a sweetener and mint. The non-alcoholic drink is a refreshing alternative to plain water or other fruit-infused beverages.
The recipe recommends combining quantities of 11 ounces of soda or carbonated water, 20 lychees, 3 Tablespoons of your chosen sweetener and 4 mint leaves.
If you don’t have soda water on hand, you can also use soft drinks like Sprint or 7-Up; however, if you use one of these alternatives, you can skip adding the sweetener or sugar.
If you use fresh lychee in the recipe instead of canned, you may need to add more sugar, as the canned lychee does come covered in a syrupy and mildly sweet liquid. Recommended sweeteners include white sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, honey or agave syrup.
Fresh mint is likewise recommended for your garnish. Ice cubes are optional. After you’ve prepared your drink, you can store it in the fridge for up to three days.
Some homemade lychee soda recipes make your process even easier by advising that you use specialty lychee-based products. This is the case with this recipe for lychee soda from Shott Beverages.
The brand says to use one of its SHOTT Lychee products and mix it with just soda water and ice for a super-quick drink. The New Zealand-crafted product is essentially a condensed formula that allows you to make flavored drinks and cocktails without relying on fresh fruit or large quantities of fruit juice. One container of SHOTT Lychee can make up to 50 glasses of the beverage of your choosing.
Buying Lychee Soda Online
If, however, you’d rather take the work out of your favorite (or soon-to-be-favorite) beverage, you can always just buy pre-made lychee soda at your favorite international market, health food store, or online. Here are some options you can find on Amazon.
This option comes in packs of twelve 12-ounce cans. The carbonated, sparkling water is made with real lychee and is sugar-free. The drinks are also non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan.
Reviewers report that “the lychee flavor is spot on.” One noted that “They really nailed it with this flavor. I love lychee, and I am happy to taste natural lychee. If the slight bite from the citric acid could be reduced, then I think this would be a perfect drink.”
The only downside to this particular option, some note, is the high price.
If you’re looking for something more authentic, like the lychee soda you had you were traveling in Asia rather than an Americanized variant, you might want to go straight to Ramune.
This popular Japanese brand offers bottles of its lychee soda, made with real sugar, in packs of six. If you want to expand your explorations of the Ramune brand, you can purchase a mixed bundle that includes two bottles each of three flavors: lychee, peach and strawberry.
Chi Forest brands its lychee soda as “lychee fizzy sparkling water,” but it’s basically the same thing as all of the other options on our list, both store-bought and homemade. Gluten-free and vegetarian, you get a pack of twenty-four 11.15-ounce cans with each purchase. The drink is made with real lychee juice and “a hint of rose petals.”
Reviewers report that these drinks can be on the sweeter side, but when mixed with additional sparkling water, they’re perfect. If you like the lychee flavor, other top flavors from the brand include green apple, pineapple and sea salt, white peach and yogurt.
Lychee Soda vs. Lychee Juice vs. Lychee Liqueur
But soda isn’t the only beverage that takes advantage of lychee’s unique flavor profile. You can also find lychee juice and lychee liqueur.
Lychee juice is like any other fruit juice, made primarily from water and the juice and pulp of the fruit. Occasionally, sugar is also added. You’ll find many of the same health benefits that you find in lychee in the juice, including vitamins B, C and potassium. The juice still contains lychee’s characteristic sweet, floral flavors, and you can buy lychee juice that contains more or less pulp and residue, depending on your tastes.
Lychee juice is enjoyable on its own, but many people also combine lychee juice with other fruit juices, such as orange juice, pineapple juice or grapefruit juice. Coconut water is also a popular addition. You can likewise use lychee juice in cocktails and mocktails.
You can find lychee juice for sale in international markets, as well as in health food stores. You can also buy lychee juice online. Amazon, for example, offers a lychee juice drink made from concentrate from Hong Kong brand Vitasoy. The juice comes in a box, much like juice boxes you might buy in your standard grocery store, filled with apple juice or fruit punch.
Lychee liqueur is often made with a mix of lychee and other juices to create a strong, alcoholic beverage that’s most often used in recipes for cocktails rather than enjoyed on its own. Popular other fruit juice additions to the liqueur include guava juice, peach juice and citrus juice. The liqueur is usually clear or light pink.
If you get your hands on some of this lychee liqueur, you can mix it into a martini, or in a Cape Cod, with vodka, cranberry juice and lime for a cocktail that’s been dubbed The Red Lotus. Another popular option is The Crouching Tiger, which is a shot that’s half lychee liqueur and half blue agave tequila. If you come across a cocktail recipe that calls for lychee juice, but you only have lychee liqueur on hand, you can use the liqueur in place of the juice. You can also use lychee liqueur in place of other fruit-based liqueurs in your other favorite cocktail recipes.
Look for lychee liqueur at your favorite wine and spirits store. You can also find lychee liqueur available through online spirits vendors. Total Wine, for example, sells Soho Lychee, a lychee liqueur that’s produced in France and measures in at 21% ABV.
Want to Stock Up on More Lychee Goodness?
If you’re looking for even more delicious ways to enjoy lychee beyond the lychee juice, fruit, soda and other beverages, you can also find an array of lychee products on Amazon that will make your enjoyment of this fruit that much simpler, no peeling or de-seeding required.
This puree is a great option if you’re specifically looking for a lychee product to add to your favorite cocktails. The vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free formula is made from pure lychee and comes in a squeezable, easy-to-store pack with a twist-on top. Whenever you’re ready to use some of the puree, just twist off the cap and pour out a serving.
While this puree was made with bartending and cocktail mixing in mind, it’s also a good fit for use in smoothies and desserts when you need a lychee puree but you don’t have enough time on your hands to peel, de-seed, chop and puree an entire batch of lychee.
For a sweeter treat when you’re not necessarily all that worried about lychee’s health benefits and more so just want the great flavor, try these sour gummy candies from Snack Hawaii. The sweet and sour candies are made and packed in Kona, where they’re a local favorite.
You might know the Torani brand for its array of coffee syrups, but the brand also produces a lychee syrup. While you might not want to add a hit of lychee to your coffee, reviewers report the syrup makes a nice addition to various tea recipes, including bubble tea, as well as fruity cocktails. Reviewers also say the syrup is on the sweeter side, so you might want to use a light touch the first time you add it to your favorite beverage.
Ready to Add Lychee to Your Healthy Diet?
Lychee is a favorite fruit to add to your healthy diet if you haven’t yet given it a try. For more content related to health and wellness and on how to find the best products to supplement your healthy lifestyle, check out the Chattersource health and wellness archives.
You might also be interested in: What Is Tiger Nut Butter? And Our 8 Favorite Recipes
Our Favorite Lychee Sodas And Products:
- Sanzo Lychee Sparkling Water
- Ramune Japanese Marble Lychee Soda
- Chi Forest Lychee Fizzy Sparkling Water
- Lychee Juice
- Soho Lychee
- Funkin Pro Lychee Puree
- Snack Hawaii Gummy Sour Lychee Fruit Candy
- Torani Lychee Syrup