Bitter melon tea is a drink popular in India, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and (increasingly) the United States. “Bitter melon” is a moniker that Americans may find unappealing, especially when it precedes “tea”, but this perennial fruit has become used in many contemporary culinary dishes, has a history of inclusion in traditional remedies, and demonstrates scientific medical potential today.
Bitter Melon – The Plant
Bitter melon (also known as bitter gourd, bitter squash, balsam pear) grows in any country with high temperatures, damp soil, and plenty of sunshine. Not native to the United States, bitter melon is now grown by gardeners in Florida and other hot American states. Bitter melon originated in ancient India before being introduced to China in the 14th century. Bitter melon is related to the cucumber and shares its watery, firm-fleshed interior. It grows on long vines, has male and female flowers, and ripens from a dark green to a bright orange/red.
Though bitter, this fruit’s flavor is desirable in many nations around the world. Often consumed raw on salads, other preparations of bitter melon seek to reduce the bitterness through blanching and other techniques. Bitter melon is high in vitamin C, regardless of how it is prepared. Dried, the fruit of a bitter melon can be used to make a tea which is usually consumed for its purported medical benefits. Ancient medical traditions have made frequent use of bitter melon tea, and the tea is becoming more frequently consumed in the west.
Bitter Melon Tea – Studies and Usage
Because of its inclusion in numerous ancient medical canons, bitter melon is an obvious subject of interest for modern science. As with many herbs and traditional medical fruits, bitter melon has not warranted the study (or attracted the funds) necessary to unequivocally link this fruit to specific medical action within human beings, but the promise is strong as early studies prove that alkaloids within bitter melon are active in applications with strong medical potential. Among these are activities related to the way the body uses sugar, metabolic actions, breakdown and absorption of food, and other processes yet to be fully understood.
How to Make Bitter Melon Tea
Bitter melon tea is easy to make, and there are several ways to do it. The most traditional way to make the tea is to steep dried melon slices (seeds and inner pulp removed) in hot water. The melon does not need to be dried, though this helps transport the sliced gourd when it is to be sold as a product. For people who grow their own or who have it in growing wild in their area, fresh gourd slices can be steeped in hot water to make the tea. A variety of commercial tea products use dry, powdered gourd slices which are then sold and brewed in conventional tea bags.
Take Care When Using Bitter Melon
Some people experience diarrhea and vomiting after consuming bitter melon or bitter melon tea. This is due to compounds in the skin and cell walls of the bitter melon. Not everybody reacts this way, but obviously those that exhibit these symptoms should stop taking bitter melon tea. Most often, these symptoms occur in people who drink the tea more frequently than recommended.
If you have questions about whether or not bitter melon is for you, or if taking it might have a positive effect on a bodily difficulty you’re experiencing, talk the matter over with a medical professional or other experienced authority. Bitter melon tea is perfectly legal to buy or make on your own, so feel free to use as desired for any reason. Do your own research on how it might be used to your benefit and enjoy!