The Americans have Jell-O, here in Asia, we grow up eating grass jelly. At first sight, the jelly is rather sinister looking. It is a black, slimy blob, does not look palatable at all. The jelly has a mild herbal taste since it is made from boiling a Chinese herb commonly known in Singapore and other parts of Asia as chin chow.
I have always thought that the herb used to make grass jelly is, well, a grass. Why call it GRASS jelly and chin CHOW (grass in hokkian) if it is not some kind of grass! Turns out, the Chin Chow herb, latin name, mesona chinensis, is a plant from the mint family. Yes, it is a leaf, not a grass.
Chin Chow is a herb considered to have what the Chinese call cooling properties, as kids we were forbidden from eating grass jelly if we were coughing as eating it will worsen the cough. The jelly is grated into long strands, sweetened with sugar syrup and made into a refreshing drink. The drink is also canned and easily found in shops within and outside of Asia. Otherwise, it is cut into bite sized cubes, sweetened and added to shaved ice and fruits.
You can make your own grass jelly but here in Singapore, nobody really make their own anymore as the jelly is so readily available in markets and cheap costing less than S$2 for a small rectangular block. I like to cut grass jelly into cubes and drizzle lots of honey. It makes for a refeshing dessert especially after eating hot and spicy dishes like curry.