Chinese Sweet Black Sesame Tong Shui, or Dessert Soup

Black sesame seeds ground into tahini with a mortar and pestle


Prep: 90 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
252 Calories
10g Fat
38g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 252
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 14mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 222mg 17%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 111mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This traditional Chinese sweet soup recipe is made with black sesame seeds and is rumored to help prevent gray hair. It is eaten warm after meals as a dessert or as a mid-afternoon snack and, of course, at dim sum. It's especially popular in Hong Kong and southern China. 

Feel free to use Chinese rock sugar (available at Asian markets) instead of granulated sugar if desired.

Optional Garnish

While the soup is delicious on its own, for an added touch, it can be garnished with crushed nuts, shredded coconut, or softened chopped Chinese dates.


  • 1 cup rice, long-grain or short-grain

  • 1 cup black sesame seeds

  • 7 cups water

  • 3/4 cup sugar, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 1 hour.

  2. Toast the black sesame seeds in a frying pan on medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are fragrant and the pan begins to smoke. Remove and cool.

  3. Drain the rice and add to a blender with 3 cups of the water.

  4. Blend until smooth. Remove and clean out the blender.

  5. Grind the sesame seeds in the blender until they are fully ground and the sesame smell is very fragrant.

  6. Add 1/2 cup of the water and grind briefly until the mixture forms a grayish paste.

  7. Add the blended rice/water mixture to the sesame paste and blend.

  8. In a large saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil with the remaining 3 1/2 cups of water and the sugar.

  9. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly (5 to 8 minutes).*

  10. Serve warm garnished with crushed nuts, shredded coconut, or softened chopped Chinese dates if desired.

Recipe Tip

Once the soup comes to a boil, be sure to stir constantly or there will be splattering and the pot may burn. Add more boiling water to the soup as desired, depending on how thick or thin you want the end result to be.