The belief and practice of consuming bird nest can be dated back centuries ago when it was first recorded in Traditional Chinese Medicine texts which describe the vast benefits of bird nest. Its popularity sprung from a long tradition of eating the bird nest and gaining visible, tangible effects on health. Not only does it shorten patient recovery time, it also boasts an "elixir" effect: rejuvenating the skin and giving a more youthful appearance.

What exactly is this bird's nest?

Bird's nest refers to the saliva produced by the Swiftlet birds, while making its nest. The saliva acts as glue, pasted to form a thin flaky wall in the nest. When the saliva comes in contact with air, it hardens and a white bird's nest cup is formed. The entire process takes around 30 days.

The saliva, though moist and in liquid form when produced, will harden into a type of strands. The saliva is considered the cement that holds the entire nest together, and the strands are interwoven throughout the nest. The strands should look almost completely gapless in order to protect the chick during reproduction.

A Swiftlet's bird nest is built primarily for laying eggs and housing the baby Swiftlet. After the eggs have been laid and hatched, the baby Swiftlet will remain in the nest until it is able to fly away independently. The nest then becomes abandoned and will not normally be re-used because, if not harvested, scavengers such as ants, lizards and cockroaches will consume the bird nest or the weather condition will ruin it.

Woven into the nest strands are bits of impurities or items such as twigs, mud, or feathers, which must be picked out prior to consumption. This cleaning step is the most time and effort consuming.