Also known as Birds Nest Drink, I recently got some from family, who bought it from Costco. It's by Golden Nest and claims to have 100% genuine swallow bird nest. I tried a pre-chilled bottle and it tasted fine with some soft chunks of what I assumed to be the actual bird's nest. Regarding the drink itself, I felt it was a bit sweet, and there is 14 grams of sugar.
I've heard a lot about Bird's Nest drinks, especially the supposed health benefits. But I've never really done my own research, so here's everything that I've read and learned so far:
What is it?
- It's the saliva of the nest of the swiflets.
- Male swiftlets build the nest with the saliva, which forms a type of salivary glue (imagine a cement) for their nest.
- Different varieties and grades of bird's nest are available.
- Harvested bird's nest can be cooked into a soup or drink.
Harvesting and Cleaning Process:
- Traditionally harvested in limestone caves by climbing up tall ladders... quite dangerous!
- Cleaned by removing twigs and feathers that are also part of the bird's nest.
- The popularity has created "farms" of concrete builds designed to breed and harvest bird's nest.
- Popularity has attracted counterfeits: even China has banned some imports of Bird's Nest.
- Cleaning fresh Bird's Nest is best done with cold water, as opposed chemicals that deplete nutritional value.
- Not considered (by me) to be unethical to swallow because it's harvested after the bird's leave and abandon the nest.
- Bird's Nest can cost up to $4,500/lb.
- Costco Sells Bird's Nest Drink: 8 x 8oz bottles for $20.
- Different grades of bird's nest can fetch different prices.
Reasons for Bird's Nest
- Health benefit reasons, discussed in more details below.
- A sign of luxury, similar to shark fin soup.
- At a restaurant during a business meeting, bird's nest soup is ordered a sign of good faith.
At Home Preparation and Consumption:
- Suggested best time to consume is on an empty stomach: either in the morning or right before bedtime.
- Experts recommend 3 grams for those between 1 to 12 years. 5-10 grams for everyone else.
- Don't cook over 100C, which would destroy nutritional value.
- Soup should be prepared in a double boiler for 20 minutes max.
- Can be prepared with rock sugar, ginseng, red dried dates, dried longans, fresh ginger, egg white, pandan leaves.
- Soak dried bird's nest overnight in cold water to soften and expand.
- Little research has been performed on biological function of Bird's Nest.
- Saliva has high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
- High in Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), beneficial for skin.
- Has all the essential amino acids
- Used in traditional Chinese medicine
- Believed to have anti-aging (remove wrinkles) and anti-cancer properties
- Believed to improve concentration and raise libido.
- Good for Pregnant Women: helps with stretch marks due to collagen, can help reduce risk of pre-eclampsia.
- Not recommended for pregnant women during the first trimester.
- Some people have negative reactions: anaphylaxic.
- Try a small amount first, to test for allergies!