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What Does Lychee Taste Like? Find the Answer Here


What does lychee taste like? Is it sweet? Is there another fruit with a similar taste? This article will answer all of these questions.

If you’re unfamiliar with lychee fruit, you might ignore it when you spot it in the produce section. After all, it is not the prettiest of fresh fruits. Lychee is not called “alligator strawberry” for no reason. Don’t let appearances fool you, though. Read on and find out why lychee is worth your attention.  

sliced open lychee fruit laying on top of the wooden table/

What is Lychee?

Lychee, or Litchi chinensis, is a stone fruit. It goes by different names, including litchi, lichi, and alligator strawberry.

Lychee comes from the soapberry family. Other tropical fruits that belong to the same family are rambutan, longan, and ackee.

Lychee’s shape is either round or oblong. It has bumpy skin with a texture similar to an alligator’s skin. A fresh, ripe lychee has red skin, while an unripe one has green.

Remember that you should only pick ripe lychees because they won’t ripen once picked. 

How To Eat Lychee

Beneath the thin skin is the edible part of this tropical fruit – the white flesh. To eat, remove the single pit in the middle. You’ll notice a thin brown husk clinging to the flesh, but that’s okay! That husk is edible, so you may eat it with the flesh. 

You can find lychees in different forms. They are sold in dried, canned, and fresh. You can taste lychee in the form of juice, often available at the grocery store.

These fruits are best eaten raw, either by themselves or as ingredients in a fruit salad. But you may also add them to cooked dishes.

What Does Lychee Taste Like?

Now that we’ve gone over what it looks like let’s discuss its flavor. So, what does lychee taste like? Like other fruits, the taste of lychee changes as it ripens. 

Unripe Lychee

Unripe lychee fruits taste bitter. They’re unpleasant, and rightfully so, because they’re toxic in this state. That said, lychees that are not yet ripe are not fit for consumption.

Fully Ripe Lychee

When fully ripe, lychees are mostly sweet, with a slight tartness. Hints of floral and a slightly acidic taste are also present. Overall, you’ll get a juicy flavor burst when you bite them. That said, it is the perfect summer fruit.

Overripe Lychee

Lychees ferment over time. As a result, overripe lychees will taste alcoholic. At this point, you should refrain from consuming them as well. 

Where Does Lychee Grow?

The lychee tree thrives in subtropical areas. It needs periodic rain to grow. The following are among the countries which grow these fruits commercially:

  • US
  • China
  • Malaysia
  • India
  • Thailand
  • Myanmar
  • Malaysia
  • Vietnam

The lychee season runs from May through July in the US.

What Does Lychee Boba Taste Like?

Since boba tea became a thing, people have been experimenting with its flavors. Lychee boba, for instance, is a result of mixing green tea and lychee juice. And, of course, for it to be truly a boba tea, you should add boba pearls. 

So what does lychee boba taste like? It is the perfect mix of fruity and milky flavors. Since this delicious fruit is naturally sweet and tart, the most evident taste in this drink is sweet.

What Does Lychee Jelly Taste Like?

Lychee is a popular addition to desserts, including jelly. The taste of lychee jelly does not stray away from the fruit. It is sweet and tart, with a bouncy texture. The acidic notes of the fruit are also present in this form. 

Eating lychee jelly feels close to eating the fruit itself. So, if you’re not that eager to try the fruit, you can start by eating lychee jelly first. After all, lychee-flavored jelly is more affordable and accessible than the fruit itself.

Lychee vs. Rambutan

Lychee is often compared to another exotic fruit, the rambutan. Indeed, they have lots of similarities. Unsurprisingly, most people mistake one for the other. They even belong to the same fruit family, so they share some qualities. However, these fruits are different in many ways, too.

Size

One of the notable differences between rambutan and lychee is their size. They often relate the size of the rambutan to a golf ball, around 4cm in diameter. Lychee, on the other hand, is usually smaller than rambutan. It has a diameter of approximately 3 cm.

Appearance

Regarding appearance, both fruits are round and red. But lychee has thin, alligator-like skin, while rambutan’s skin is thick and spiky. It has hairs that protrude from its outer covering. This is their biggest difference, as once you peel them, you can hardly tell them apart. They both have white flesh that encases a single pit.

Taste

When it comes to taste, these fruits have similar flavor notes. They are both tart and sweet. But rambutan tastes richer than lychee. Rambutan has that creamy quality, while lychee has more of a crisp floral flavor.

Aroma

Regarding aroma, lychee is a clear winner. It has a strong, floral aroma prized in cocktails and desserts. On the other hand, rambutan has a pleasant fruity scent, but it isn’t as intense as lychee. 

Culinary Uses of Lychee

Lychee is a versatile fruit that you may eat in many ways. You may enjoy it by itself as a snack.

Ripe lychees are also great additions to charcuterie boards. Lychee pairs well with cheese, so much so that cheese-stuffed lychees became a thing. 

You can add them to green and fruit salads.

This exotic fruit goes incredibly well with pork. That said, lychee tastes good when added to savory dishes too.  

Lychee is a prized ingredient in making desserts. You may find them in ice cream, yogurt, cakes, and jellies. There is even a lychee sorbet!

Lastly, lychees are popular flavorings for beverages. People use them to make juice, tea, and smoothies. Some cocktail recipes even call for it. Its juice blends well with gin, vodka, and vermouth. Bartenders even use the fruit as a garnish. 

Do Lychees Have A Long Shelf Life?

No. Lychees don’t keep well as they are highly perishable. Their skin starts to change color once you harvest them. At room temperature, they’ll stay good for 3 days. When refrigerated, lychees will keep for a week. 

Can You Use Lychee In Baking?

Yes, you can use lychee in baking. Even when it is watery, lychee holds well in cooking and baking. Because of this, you may put them in bread and pastries. 

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Lychee?

Lychee has numerous nutritional benefits. It has Vitamins B2 and C, along with fiber and potassium. This fruit also carries antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  

Summary

Lychee is an exotic fruit native to China. It is round and red with a bumpy exterior. This fruit is versatile; you can use it for sweet and savory dishes, beverages, and even desserts.

What does lychee taste like? Its white flesh boasts an amazing blend of sweet and tart tastes. Plus, lychee has hints of floral and slightly acidic notes. The refreshing taste of lychee is unique, and you should give it a try!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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