The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat lychee. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What lychee etiquette is

Lychee etiquette is the set of rules to serve and eat lychees properly. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve lychees to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat lychees at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat lychee

What you should know about lychee

Lychee is a type of fruit that originates from southern China but is now widely cultivated in Southeast Asia, India, and other tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Lychee is a small, oval-shaped fruit with bumpy, reddish-pink skin. The flesh is white and juicy, with a texture similar to grapes. Lychee has a sweet, fragrant flavor that is often described as floral, with notes of pear, grape, and watermelon.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat lychee

1) How to store lychee

The ideal temperature to store lychee is between 32-40°F (0-4°C). To store lychee in the pantry, place them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. To store lychee in the fridge, place them in a perforated plastic bag or container and keep them in the crisper drawer. Lychee can last up to 1 week in the pantry and up to 2-3 weeks in the fridge. To store lychee in the freezer, peel and remove the seed, then place them in an airtight container or plastic bag. Frozen lychee can last up to 6 months in the freezer.

Store cooked lychee in an airtight container in the fridge and consume them within 1-2 days.

2) How to clean lychee

To clean lychee, rinse them under running water and gently pat dry with a towel. There is a small risk of contamination with pesticides or bacteria, so it is recommended to buy organic lychee or wash them with a vegetable wash solution. No special tool is required for cleaning lychee.

When lychee has turned bad, the skin may become brown and dry, and the flesh may become mushy or discolored. It may also have a sour or fermented smell.

3) How to prepare & cook lychee

Lychee can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare lychee for cooking, peel off the skin and remove the seed. Common ways to cook lychee include adding it to stir-fries, sauces, or desserts. Utensils or appliances commonly used to prepare and cook lychee include a knife, cutting board, wok, or saucepan.

It is a common ingredient in salads, smoothies, and desserts such as sorbet, ice cream, or fruit tarts. You can also make it into juice, jam, or preserves.

Lychee is suitable for vegan, keto, and paleo diets. However, some people may be allergic to lychee or experience digestive issues due to its high sugar content. There are no known religious dietary restrictions against lychee.

4) How to serve & present lychee

You can serve lychee on any occasion, including formal or informal meals, breakfast, brunch, or snacks. It is appropriate as a fruit course, dessert, or sweet appetizer.

It is best to serve lychee chilled. You can present it on a small plate or bowl, and serve it with a small fork or toothpick for easy eating. No special serving tools are required.

5) Food and wine to pair lychee with

Lychee pairs well with other tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple, papaya, and citrus fruits such as orange or grapefruit. It also pairs well with coconut, mint, or ginger. Lychee pairs well with a variety of vegetables, including cucumber, bell peppers, and avocado. It is best to avoid pairing lychee with bitter or pungent vegetables such as arugula or radicchio.

It can pair with some soft and mild cheese, such as brie or goat cheese. Avoid pairing it with strong or pungent cheese such as blue cheese or aged cheddar. Lychee can be a great addition to meat and fish dishes. It pairs well with lighter meats such as chicken, pork, and duck. For fish, white-fleshed fish like sea bass or snapper works well. However, it may not pair well with red meat or stronger-flavored fish like salmon or tuna.

Lychee pairs well with both red and white wines. For red wine, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais can complement the sweetness of the lychee. As for white wine, a Riesling or Gewürztraminer can balance the acidity of the lychee. Rosé wine can also work well, as can sparkling wine, especially brut or extra brut varieties. Dessert wines like Sauternes can be a great pairing, and lychee can also be paired with beer or spirits such as vodka or gin.

6) How to eat lychee

To eat lychee politely, use your fingers to peel the skin off the fruit. Once the skin is removed, you can pop the flesh into your mouth and discard the seed. It is considered impolite to eat the seed, and using utensils like a fork or knife is not necessary.

Lychee etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common lychee etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Using utensils to eat lychee, as it is traditionally eaten with the fingers.

Additional information for properly serving lychee

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Lychee is relatively low in calories, with around 6 calories per fruit and 66 calories per 100 grams.

How to buy the best lychee

A crucial factor in lychee etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Lychee is a seasonal fruit and is typically available from May to October. The best season to buy lychee depends on the region and climate.

Choose the best

Lychee is commonly found fresh, canned, or dried in commerce.

Some of the most popular varieties of lychee include the Brewster, the Emperor, and Mauritius. The Emperor variety is often considered the most prized due to its larger size and sweeter flavor.

When selecting lychee, look for fruits that are plump and firm with bright red skin. Avoid fruits that are brown or have soft spots, as they may be overripe or spoiled.

Alternatives to lychee

Some common alternatives to lychee include rambutan, longan, and mangosteen, which are all tropical fruits with similar sweet and juicy flesh.