The famous Hainan Yeshu Brand Coconut Milk (椰树牌) is one of my favourite Chinese beverages, and here’s my homemade version. This Chinese Coconut Drink uses just one ingredient—young coconut—and is so refreshing and sweet, with a strong coconut flavour. It’s become a tradition in our family to serve these coconut drinks at any gathering or potluck, especially when we eat Hot Pot.
Why Make Your Own Coconut Milk?
- One Ingredient: You only need a single ingredient—young green coconuts—to make this drink. The coconut water provides natural sweetness and the coconut meat adds a creamy richness. They balance each other out perfectly, no need for added milk or sugar!
- Full of Electrolytes: Coconut water is used in many sport drinks because it’s naturally rich in electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and magnesium. These electrolytes help you stay hydrated, plus, coconut meat is also full of other nutrients like fibre, healthy fat, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Blended together, they make a nutritious all-natural drink.
- Nostalgic! Growing up, the Yeshu brand of coconut milk—you know, those black-and-yellow cartons you find at the Asian supermarket—was basically ambrosia to me. This homemade coconut drink hits the same craving. It’s not quite as sweet, but then again, it’s healthier too.
What You’ll Need
A few important notes on the ingredients used in this Chinese Coconut Milk recipe:
Young Coconut: Also known as Thai Coconut or Green Coconut. You might find them in the grocery store with their green outer husk still on, or they may already be “pre-husked” in which case they’ll look like ones in the picture below. Unlike mature coconuts, young coconuts have higher water content and a sweeter, more tender flesh. Coconut water comes from young coconut, while canned coconut milk, shredded coconut, and coconut flakes are made with mature coconut.
For Your Reference: One young coconut yields roughly 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups of coconut water (300–360g), and around 1/2 cup of coconut meat (100–120g).
Sweetener: Optional, only if you want a sweeter drink. I like to drink my homemade coconut milk beverage without any added sugar, but Kevin prefers to add a generous drizzle of maple syrup. You can use sugar, syrup, stevia, or any other sweetener of your choice.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Using a cleaver, chop at the top of the coconut until you create a small opening.
Step 2: Hold the coconut upside down over a blender jar to pour out all of the coconut water.
Tip: If you have cut-resistant gloves, I advise putting them on while you chop the coconut. Just in case your hand slips! This is the pair I own. I’ll release a video in the coming days to demonstrate how you can safely open a young coconut, so watch this space 🙂
Step 3: Continue to hack at the coconut until you can insert a spoon through the opening.
Step 4: Use the spoon to scoop out the coconut flesh, and add it to the blender.
Step 5: Add sweetener if desired. Blend on high speed until smooth, around 30–45 seconds.
Step 6: Pour into glasses (or right back into the hollowed-out coconuts themselves) and enjoy!
Fridge: Fresh homemade coconut milk drink can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. Over time, the fatty compounds in the coconut flesh will separate from the coconut water. Just shake or stir it up for a few seconds to mix it back together.
Freezer: I haven’t tried freezing this recipe yet. Let me know if you do!
A basic Chinese coconut drink typically consists of coconut milk or coconut cream, water, and sugar. These ingredients are mixed together to form a creamy, sweet beverage that can be served chilled or over ice. Optional additions may include chunks of fresh coconut meat, tropical fruits like lychee or mango, aloe pulp, or tapioca pearls. Pre-made versions may also contain preservatives or artificial flavorings, but you can avoid those if you make your own coconut drink at home.
Coconut water and coconut milk are two different natural liquids obtained from a coconut. Coconut water is the lightly sweet, clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut. It’s low in calories and fat but rich in electrolytes, making it a popular hydrating drink. Coconut milk, on the other hand, is made by blending the white flesh of a mature coconut with water and then straining it, resulting in a creamy, high-fat liquid commonly used in cooking and baking. While coconut water is ready to drink straight from the coconut, coconut milk is generally a processed product used as an ingredient.
Coconut Palm (椰树牌) is a beverage brand that is primarily known for its coconut water and coconut milk-based drinks. Originating from China, this brand has been around for several decades and is popular with the Asian community around the world. Their juices are made from coconuts sourced from Hainan, a province which is traditionally the most prolific coconut producer in China.
Yeshu brand coconut milk contains: water, coconut, sugar, sodium caseinate, and mono-glycerides. Sodium caseinate is also known as casein, which is a milk ingredient. Mono-glycerides are an emulsifier and food additive which helps keep the fat and water in the drink from separating, and improves its shelf life.
Yes, you can generally drink coconut milk every day, provided it is consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Coconut milk is a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s also high in saturated fats and calories, so excessive consumption could lead to weight gain or elevate cholesterol levels. If you have allergies to tree nuts or specific health concerns like heart disease, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice. Always consider your overall daily caloric and nutritional intake when incorporating coconut milk into your diet.
More Asian Sweet Treats Recipes
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Chinese Coconut Milk Drink
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- High speed blender (Vitamix, Ninja, or Blendtec all work great; I use this Vitamix model)
- Sharp knife or cleaver
- Cut-resistant gloves (see Note 1)
- 2 young coconuts also known as Thai coconut or green coconut
- Sweetener to taste see Note 2
- Using a cleaver, chop at the top of the coconut until you create a small opening.
- Hold the coconut upside down over a blender jar to pour out the coconut water.
- Chop at the opening to make it bigger until you can insert a spoon inside.
- Use the spoon to scoop out all of the coconut meat, and add it to the blender.
- Add sweetener if desired. Blend coconut water and coconut meat together on high speed until smooth, around 30–45 seconds.
- Pour into glasses (or right back into the hollowed-out coconuts themselves)!
- Gloves: If you have cut-resistant gloves, I recommend putting them on while you chop the coconut. Just in case your hand slips! I use this pair from Amazon.
- Sweetener: This is optional. I like to drink my homemade coconut milk beverage without any added sugar, but you can sprinkle in some sugar, syrup, stevia, or any other sweetener of your choice.