Your 'Fresh' Lychee Might Be from Last Year

By Billy Jiang, May 22, 2024

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As lychee season kicks off in Guangdong, many are eagerly savoring the sweet, juicy fruit. But did you know that the 'fresh' lychees you're enjoying might actually be from last year?

Yes, you read that right. 

A recent news story revealed that 300 tons of lychees, frozen for 10 months, are now being thawed and sold, which has caused quite a stir on social media.

But don't worry, these 'frozen lychees' are not the same as the 'zombie lychees' you might find in your freezer after months of neglect. 

According to experts, there's a big difference. 

A team from South China Agricultural University has spent five years perfecting the technique of freezing lychees using liquid nitrogen. 

The result? 'Frozen lychees' that maintain their quality and taste.


Lychees undergoing special process. Image via 广州发布/WeChat Offcial Account

These lychees undergo a process that includes quick cooling, bacteria reduction, color preservation, precise packaging, rapid freezing, and cold storage. 

The process allows them to be stored for up to a year, breaking the seasonal barrier and making lychees available year-round.

The 'frozen lychee' hitting the market now was actually harvested around June 2023. 

Thanks to this advanced freezing technology, it's expected that over 2,000 tons of lychees can be preserved this way each year.

So why are these frozen lychees being introduced now? 

You might have guessed it – the excessive rainfall in April has significantly impacted lychee growers. 


Lychee trees in Shenzhen region. Image by Mengwen Zhao/Shenzhen Special Zone Daily

According to reports from Shenzhen Special Zone Daily and Guangzhou Evening Newspaper, local lychee trees are described as "lush with leaves but sparse with fruit."

Growers are predicting that this year's lychee yield may be less than 10% of last year's. 

The high cost of harvesting means that there will be even fewer lychees available in the market.

The reports also highlight that while lychee street vendors are plentiful in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, most of the lychees sold are from Hainan, not Guangdong.

So, getting your hands on fresh, local Guangdong lychees might be a challenge this year!

Have you had a chance to taste lychees this season? Share your lychee tasting experiences with us. 

For more updates on the latest happenings in the Greater Bay Area, follow our WeChat official account, ThatsGBA.

[Cover image via Billy Jiang/That's]

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