Full of Beans

I was in Langkawi last week – it was a very quick trip to visit a client. At the same time it was also a meet up and discussion about a marketing project we are doing with another client.

As we were visiting a client who just had leg surgery, I was wondering what I could bring. Fruits was out of the question – I was not going to carry fruits onto the AirAsia flight (as an aside, I was on the same flight to Langkawi as celebrity chef, Chef Wan!).

Finally I settled on a very healthy gift – a packet of nutritious cereal powder from my favourite Buddhist society – Tzu Chi.

The green packet on the right contains Jew's Mallow.

The green packet on the right contains Jew's Mallow.

I’ve always been in awe of Tzu Chi because they’re a charity organization like no other. Instead of asking for handouts, they prefer to engage in honest business to help them fund their work. Their dialysis treatments for kidney patients are completely free. Amazing.

Nic and I decided to go to their Macalister Road building to get the nutritious bean powder. (You can also buy them from the Jing Si Book shop on Beach Street which is a lovely serene cafe with Buddhist books for sale. However, I prefer their Macalister Road outlet which is actually a huge grey building – you can’t miss this. Plus like everything else in Penang, parking is important. In this place, parking is very convenient. No doubt about it.)

Everything that's good for you is inside this beverage.

Everything that's good for you is inside this beverage.

The interesting part is, the ingredients for their products are mostly grown by themselves in Taiwan. Taiwan is the headquarters of Tzu Chi Merit Society – this is where they started some 40 years ago with just 1 nun (Master Cheng Yen) and 30 housewives. Today, Tzu Chi is a global phenomenon with a task force of volunteers all over the globe, ready to serve at any moment’s notice. Their dedication is truly incredible.

Tzu Chi sells about 4 different types of instant bean drinks

Tzu Chi sells about 4 different types of instant bean drinks

The bean powders are purely vegan and consists of ingredients like Job’s tears, almonds, Chinese yam, oats, sesame seeds, lotus seeds, black beans, brown rice and more. The bean cereal powder are suitable for both young and old and a good replacement for sugared beverages. I also discovered a plant called Jew’s Mallow when I bought one of the bean beverages which contain Jew’s Mallow which is cultivated in Taiwan by their master and her disciples.  Jew’s Mallow is also called Kerria Japonica – a yellow flowering shrub with leaves used as a vegetable.

While I was there buying these bean powder beverages for family and friends (and you know how suddenly one thinks of everyone who could and would benefit from this healthy beverage), the Tzu Chi volunteer asks if I’d like to try their instant noodles. She said their noodles were often in high demand and taste great, without the MSG! I am not a noodle fan so I politely declined.

They also sell a quick version of rice gruel or instant porridge where you just add hot water and presto, your porridge is ready. I heard that this was an innovation of theirs especially when Tzu Chi serves in disaster areas – easily cooked or hot food makes a big difference to disaster survivors. Even their rice is of this instant version – just add hot water and you get rice immediately.

What I especially like about Tzu Chi products is that they’re made with the Earth in mind. Their packaging is recyclable. And their design is simple yet elegant. None of the Jinjang designs – no way. Like their founder, Tzu Chi volunteers live a simple, practical lifestyle and often are serene, calm people. The entire Tzu Chi organisation lives and breathes simplicity and practicality.

And if I have a choice when buying responsibly, I will. In this case, you are not only buying a healthy bean beverage for yourself but also supporting an organization which does good.

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