Original Herbal Shop 正宗凉茶馆
After a satisfying meal at Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant, we crossed the bridge and walked over to Original Herbal Shop along Balestier Road, for some health boosting Traditional Chinese and Hong Kong desserts.
龟苓膏 is a traditional dessert originated from Wuzhou, China. It is totally natural and is served after every meal in the homes of the wealthy during ancient times. The secret recipe, handed down from generations, comprises of 18 different natural herbs mixed in precise proportions and simmered over low heat for hours to produce this concoction which is then made into jelly.
龟苓膏 is Tortoise/Turtle Jelly. Yes, you heard right! I eat all kinds of weird stuff I know but all in the name of good health and hopefully with rejuvenation thrown in as a bonus 😉
Some of the primary ingredients are the turtle’s ventral surface called plastron, smilax (tufuling, 土茯苓), honey, ginseng, wolfberries, dried rehmannia (gandihuang, 乾地黃), licorice root (gancao, 甘草), divaricate saposhniovia (fangfeng, 防風), and other ingredients.
Gui Ling Gao works on the digestive system by detoxifying the body and strengthening the vital organs. The result? A healthy body with radiant and clear complexion.
That said, pregnant women should abstain from Gui Ling Gao as it is too yin (cooling). We usually eat Gui Ling Gao after a heavy meal or when we are feeling heaty (yang). Gui Ling Gao is ideally eaten cold rather than warm or hot. The jelly tastes bitter, therefore sugar syrup or honey is added onto it just before consumption.
The Original Herbal Shop at Balestier is the place to go to whenever we want to eat 龟苓膏 (Gui Ling Gao) in Singapore. The dessert comes at a very reasonable price of S$6.50. There’s also Gui Ling Gao with ground pearls (and I mean real pearls from oysters not dessert tapioca pearls). The Turtle Jelly I had in Macau cost S$250 so imagine the price gap. Of course, I would like to believe that my complexion is intensely radiant after consuming the latter.
We love our desserts here and find value for our money.
Original Herbal Shop 正宗凉茶馆
414 Balestier Rd,
Tel: (+65) 6250 5567.
11am – 12midnight
Happy Sunday 🙂
Tidbits from Wikipedia:
Legend has it that the Tongzhi Emperor nearly cured his smallpox by taking Gui Ling Gao. However, Empress Cixi believed his disease could be cured by worshipping a smallpox idol. She succeeded in convincing the emperor to quit his Gui Ling Gao regimen. The emperor died soon after.
The key ingredient of Gui Ling Gao is the 金錢龜 (Jinqiangui – Golden Coin Turtle) with the scientific name of Cuora trifasciata. It is also known as the three-striped box turtle. As Chinese believed this specie of turtles to have the most efficient medicinal value, it has over the years become endangered due to unsustainable hunting.
These days, Cuora trifasciata are bred on registered turtle farms in China. Research showed that yearly sale of 20,600 farm-raised Cuora trifasciata commands a handsome value of about US$37 million. That’s a whopping US$1,800 per turtle in comparison to the common Pelodiscus sinensis, turtles raised for food, which is worth under US$7.
Although the Cuora trifasciata is commercially farmed in modern China, it is extremely expensive; therefore, even when turtle-derived ingredients are used in commercially available Gui Ling Gao, they come from other, more commonly available, turtle species. Could this be the reason why there’s a disparity in price for the jellies sold in Macau and Singapore?
More often, commercially available Gui Ling Gao sold as a dessert does not contain turtle shell powder at all, despite the product name and the prominent turtle images on most brands’ labels. They do, however, share the same herbal additives as the medicine and are similarly marketed as being good for skin complexion when ingested.