Hwachae Is The Fruit Punch That Took Over TikTok

Recipes that have gone viral on TikTok are really becoming a dime a dozen. Consider grilled watermelon pizza, baked feta pasta, and cowboy candy, just three of the trendy dishes that have exploded on the social media platform. And then there are dishes like Hwachae (pronounced "hwa-chay"), which has been a beloved South Korean delicacy for years, but has skyrocketed around the world thanks to the exposure.

Part drink, part dessert, Hwachae is also known as Korean watermelon punch. It's typically made in a large bowl or container and spooned out into individual portions, although, most TikTok videos feature users enjoying it with gusto right out of the serving container. Served cold with fizzy soda mixed in, it's particularly refreshing in hot weather. 

Sweet, tart, and bursting with fruit, it's a hit with people of all ages and is sometimes described as a breakfast cereal substitute due to the fact that it's eaten with a spoon and includes milk. TikTok users have gushed over the surprisingly delicious aroma and taste of the unique snack, which is reminiscent of a deconstructed fruit smoothie, with soda thrown in for good measure.

Created over 600 years ago and popular today

Hwachae has been enjoyed in Korea for thousands of years and was originally made with flower petals that were soaked in water sweetened with honey. In fact, the word "Hwachae" itself is a combination of the Korean words "hwa," which means flower, and "chae," which means tea. It was popular with the royals during the Joseon dynasty that reigned from 1392 to 1910.

Today, there are upwards of 30 variations of the dish served at various times of the year (especially spring and summer time) depending on which ingredients are in season. While watermelon may be the essential fruit choice for Hwachae today, traditionally the base fruit was omija, or magnolia berry, which featured all five taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and spice. Peaches, strawberries, and citrus fruits were popular garnishes, as were flower petals, which looked beautiful and also helped with digestion.

As modern and advanced as platforms like TikTok are, it's fascinating to know that it is inspiring a whole new generation in the 21st century to try things that were created over 600 years ago. It's an interesting example of how culinary history certainly does repeat itself.

The many ways to make Hwachae

To make a batch of Hwachae like one of the viral TikTok videos, combine watermelon chunks, sliced bananas and strawberries, dragonfruit, ice, strawberry milk, and Sprite in a bowl. The watermelon is often considered a "must" in Hwachae, particularly in the summertime to aid in hydration, but the rest of the fruit can vary according to whatever is in season or whichever fruits you favor, and can include chopped mango, fresh raspberries, kiwi, peaches, and pineapple. Some recipes simply call for a can of fruit cocktail. 

The type of milk you use can vary as well, with banana milk being a good choice, or simple, plain white milk being just fine to use too. Taste your batch of Hwachae for sweetness, adding any sweetener to your liking, although the lemon-lime soda should generally take care of the sugar level.


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In Korea, the soda pop of choice for this recipe is Chilsung cider, which can be difficult to find in the United States. But Sprite, 7Up, ginger ale, and even a lemon or lime-flavored seltzer water would be a delicious addition. Some eliminate the extra sugar by opting for a sugar-free or diet soda pop, and you could even use a non-dairy milk to get the same creaminess but make it plant-based. All in all, Hwachae is very customizable as long as it is served cold.