Help me identify this sweet drink made from dissolving an orange solid!
December 10, 2011 11:13 PM   Subscribe

What was this home-made drink I drank in the 90s? It was made from dissolving a powdery orange 'rock'!

In the early 90s, my mother brought home what appeared to be (to me, a young child at the time) a rectangle of orange-ish powdery 'rock.' (It was not actually a stone, but it was definitely solid, and my mother told me it was a rock.) She broke it into pieces and put one chunk into a pot of water, then boiled it. After the rock dissolved, she poured the water into a pitcher and let it chill in the fridge. The drink was sweet, almost like sweet tea, although there were no sweeteners added. It was all I drank at the time. I keenly remember how disappointed I was when we ran out the rock, especially when my mother said she couldn't buy it anymore.

I had almost forgotten this food memory. Now that I recall this drink so vividly, I want to find it again. I asked my mother about it, but her memory is spotty nowadays and she only vaguely remembers what I'm talking about - nothing specific about the 'rock' she purchased, just that "it's not an American thing." My mother did all of her food shopping in Asian grocery stores and weekend Mexican outdoor markets. I could've sworn she told me, as a child, that this mysterious drink was either something from her childhood or something that made her think of her childhood (she is from Taiwan), but she doesn't remember telling me this.

What was this drink? Anybody have a clue?
posted by cuculine to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
rock candy dissolved in chrysanthemum tea?
posted by acidic at 11:58 PM on December 10, 2011

For some reason, this is triggering a vague memory for me, too, but nothing specific. (My parents are also from Taiwan.)

Note that rock sugar comes in a lot of colors, including orange-ish ones.

Perhaps your mom boiled the "rock" with some other ingredients. Suanmeitang is sort of tea-colored, made by boiling sour plum with rock sugar and a few other ingredients. It's sweet and sour, vaguely tea-like, and chilled in the fridge before serving.
posted by SpringAquifer at 1:00 AM on December 11, 2011

The rock sounds like a chunk of palm sugar in its rock form.
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:30 AM on December 11, 2011

Or Jaggery.
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:34 AM on December 11, 2011

Maybe Winter Melon Punch? According to Wikipedia, you can buy the concentrate in cubes at Asian food stores, and the process of making it sounds like what you've described.
posted by amyms at 3:07 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds like those orange tablets of Vitamin C that you dissolve in water, maybe in a larger form? I don't know why you'd have to boil it, though, unless it was lower quality and the hot water aided the process.
posted by HopperFan at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2011

How about Nabaat (another picture)? It's persian rock sugar with saffron. I think it's often used for children's stomach aches.
posted by Secretariat at 9:27 AM on December 11, 2011

Rock sugar isn't all that powdery, though. What color was the finished drink?
posted by Secretariat at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2011

The finished drink, as I recall, was orange-ish - not a vibrant orange juice orange though. The rock didn't look like rock candy.

The palm sugar looks something like what I remember. I'll see if I can track some down to test it.
posted by cuculine at 10:16 AM on December 12, 2011

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