The Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai recently was surprised to discover on the shelves of a local supermarket chain a canned beverage called "The Jew's Ear Juice."This beverage has actually been reviewed on a website:
The drink is made of a black mushroom which does resemble a wrinkled ear.
Israel's Consul-General in Shanghai Jackie Eldan stressed that this was not a case of anti-Semitism, as Judaism is considered in China a synonym of success.
According to Eldan, the juice's manufacturer must have thought that linking it to the Jewish ear would be profitable.
Really, what sounds more appetizing than juice from a Jew's ear, especially "Quality Jew's ear selected from Changbai Mountain?"(h/t Vicious Babushka)
I'm actually pretty nervous to try it. From the Chinese name, 黑木耳露 （Hei1 Mu4 Er3 Lu4）, I know that it's wood ear juice. Wood ear (evidently a.k.a. Jew's ear) is a fungus that's pretty common in Chinese dishes, but I would never think about drinking it.
It's a nasty-looking thick semi-transparent cloudy brown liquid. It's smell is weird, like a mix between the apple vinegar drink and turkey gravy. It's a little thick and slimy, but the flavor is actually mild. The flavor isn't anything at all like the cooked wood ear that I'm used to eating.
It's so strange that it tastes like bland, bad, old apple cider, that I decided to check the ingredients. The Jew's Ear Juice is made of: pure water, black wood ear (Jew's ear), haw (Chinese hawthorn), big Chinese date, sugar, honey, sodium of citric acid, and stabilizer.
It all makes sense now, the strange appley flavor is coming from the haw. It does taste similar to hawthorne juice now that I think of it.
Well, the can says that if you drink the Jew's ear juice cold, it's clear and refreshing, but you can heat it up to make it more "densely" fragrant. I gotta try it.
Wow this stuff heats up fast. Granted, I only heated a little bit, but I think due to the thickness or sugar or something, it started boiling after about 20 seconds in the microwave.
They were right about the smell, it is definitely denser. The strange thing is that it now smells more like food, almost like spaghetti-o's. Believe it or not, Jew's ear juice actually tastes better hot. Maybe it's the thickness, but I think it's just that wood ear is usually served cold, and when the juice is hot it reminds me less that I'm drinking fungus juice.
As a special bonus it came with a Jew's Ear Juice Bottle Opener! What a great souvenir. I will be the hit of all the parties from now on.
*Update: Since I've gotten a lot of questions from readers as to what Jew's ear actually is, I found this beautiful picture of one by Jenny Downing. You can definitely see where this fungus gets the name "wood ear. "