Mandarin Orange Stuffed with Puerh

Whether it is mandarin oranges or tangerines, citrus fruits have played a large role in Chinese medicine for centuries. So it is no surprise to find a practice of stuffing tea into these dried fruits.


Mandarin Oranges, CC 2.0 by frans16611

Starting back around the Song Dynasty (900-1269CE), citrus fruit was used to treat sore throats, nausea, and congestion. The fruit would be eaten, then the rind would be dried and steeped in boiling water or tea. There is currently no known documentation around when tea, and specifically puerh, began being stuffed into dried citrus fruit. However given that the Song Dynasty continued the rise of tea as an everyday beverage for all Chinese people, that began during the previous dynasty, it is not a far stretch to speculate that tea may have been stuffed into citrus during this period. Much of the citrus fruit in China is also grown in the same regions as the tea – Yunnan, Guangdong and Fujian.

How Mandarin Oranges are Stuffed with Puerh

As you can imagine it is a rather labor intensive to stuff tea into an empty citrus rind. To start, a small hole is carved into the top of the fruit and then needle nose plyers are used to reach into the fruit and pull out all the citrus meat and thin the rind. Then, while the rind is still soft, tea is dropped into the rind, the fruit is then shook and the tea gently pressed down until the rind is full. The cap is put back on and the fruit is put out to sun dry or into a dryer at less than 200°F to dry the rind. The tea has already been fully dried. So, the thing to note about this production process, the goal is to not crack the rind while pulling apart the fruit or stuffing in the tea. The amount of money a tea manufacturer can get for these creations is judged on how little damage there is to the rind.

Since this tea is thought of more as medicine in China, its flavor profile is rarely considered. However, those of us approaching it strictly for its flavor will find a similarity to Earl Grey. It is earthier, because of the aging of the puerh and citrus rind, but still has a citrus finish. One of our favorites is a 2007 Mandarin Orange stuffed with a shu puerh from Yunnan.

How to Brew a Mandarin Orange Stuffed with Puerh

Western Style Preparation: Break off roughly 3 grams (about a teaspoon) of puerh and orange rind and add to infuser. Steep 2-3 minutes with boiling water. Re-steep a second time for 3-4 minutes. Try additional infusions at 5 minutes each while you are still happy with the taste & strength of infusion. Store any unused mandarin orange puerh in an open zip-lock bag away from any strong aromas (a home office is a great location). This tea can continue to age for years to come if desired.

Asian Style Preparation: Using a medium size Gaiwan infuse 2/3 to one whole mandarin orange ball with boiling water. Perform a quick wash by pouring boiling water over the mandarin orange puerh ball before immediately discarding. Then steep 20 seconds and pour off into a cup or small pitcher and enjoy. Steep a second time for about 15 seconds and enjoy. Steep 6-10 more times adding slightly to the infusion time subsequent infusion.

History of Mulling Spices

Across a multitude of years and cultures, the consumption of mulled wine is long synonymous with winter, evocative of cold nights, holiday gatherings, and good cheer. Brewed by steeping a variety of herbs and spices into (most often) a red wine base, this festive beverage has a long and storied history that is well worth looking into.

crockpot to make it in

The making of mulled wine dates back to antiquity, first entering written records in the 2nd century BCE. The ancient Romans were frequent consumers of various mulled concoctions, with mentions by such writers as Pliny the Elder and Apicius. In addition to being delicious, spiced wine was considered medicinally beneficial, as its purported “hot, dry” properties were seen as an effective remedy against imbalances of the humours. Over the centuries, the spread of the Roman empire and increase of global trade resulted in spiced wine’s popularity throughout much of mainland Europe and into Asia. One commonly-seen variant was known as hippocras, which in addition to either red or white wine, featured spices such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger, long pepper, and grains of paradise. It was known to have been served both hot and at room temperature – while overnight, room-temperature steeping of the spices was one of the more frequent methods to make it, heating the mixture ensured that added sweeteners dissolved into the liquid properly.

As time went on, hippocras and beverages of its kind continued to spread and shift according to regional taste and preference. Sugar or honey was often added, especially in hot preparations, to balance astringency. In the British Isles, hot mulled wine mixtures were a common way to stave off the winter’s bitter chill, eventually giving rise to such drinks as wassail and Smoking Bishop (one of several members of the “ecclesiastical” family of mulled wines, including the claret-based Smoking Archbishop and the burgundy-based Smoking Pope).

Meanwhile, in Germany and the Alsace, glühwein emerged as another popular winter beverage, and today remains a staple of many regional Christmas Markets. Nordic countries favor a similar preparation called glögg, gløgg, or glöggi, which, in addition to wine and spices, may also feature add-ins such as juice, syrup, or harder spirits. Across the ocean, Brazilians enjoy vinho quente during their winter months, especially mid-June. The list goes on! All over the world, mulled wine is enjoyed as a delicious and fortifying way to warm up from the cold. The variations in spices and additives are virtually endless. We here at Dominion Tea love a cinnamon and clove-forward blend, with ginger, allspice, and lemon peel for extra flavor. What’s your favorite mixture?

By: Jen Coate

History of the Hot Toddy

Autumn will be here soon, and we at Dominion Tea can’t help but feel excited! Crisp weather, colorful leaves – and, of course, the return of some of our favorite cozy flavors. And while so many of the seasonal beverages are tasty, we wanted to shine a special spotlight on one delicious remedy, the unsung hero of cold and flu season: the hot toddy

Hot Toddy in Cup with Jar of Honey, Cinnamon Stick, Shot Glass

If you haven’t tried a hot toddy when you’re under the weather, you’re missing out. This historic drink has a long reputation for soothing sore throats and stuffy heads. However, what exactly goes into a hot toddy is a matter of debate. Some start with black or herbal tea, while others just use hot water. Some call for sugar, some honey. Some may use whiskey, some brandy, some no alcohol at all… the list goes on. But all variations aside, the essence of the drink remains the same: a tea or water base flavored with sweetener, citrus, and warming spices, often (but not always) bolstered with a shot of alcohol. 

So when and where can we find the true origins of the fabled hot toddy? One popular theory holds that it may have begun its life in British-occupied India during the 18th century, when trade brought the traditional palm wine known as tadi (or toddy) to European attention. This drink was often mixed with sugar and warming spices, evolving over time into the hot toddy we know today. 

Other theories speculate that the hot toddy was first invented in Scotland. Named for Edinburgh’s Tod’s Well, the city’s primary water source, this toddy began as a bracing mixture of Scotch whisky with hot water and spices to fend off the cold of northern winters. Still others claim that the drink may be credited to 19th century Irish physician Robert Bentley Todd, who was said to have often prescribed his patients a hot drink mixture consisting of water, sugar, cinnamon, and brandy. 

Regardless of where it came from, the hot toddy still retains a respected place among our favorite seasonal drinks. Its endless variations are the perfect way to mix and match flavors just the way you like. We favor a cozy and soothing blend of caffeine-free honeybush, warming spices, and lemon peel in our toddy base blend – perfect with a dash of honey and whiskey for those blustery nights. What’s your favorite way to enjoy a hot toddy? 

By: Jen Coate

Easy and Festive Matcha Butter Cream Frosting

Looking for a quick and easy way to brighten up your holiday bakes this year? As always, we’ve got a tea to help! Not only does this matcha buttercream boost a gorgeous natural green color, its sweet complexity compliments a wide variety of flavors. We especially love pairing it with gingerbread or dark chocolate cookies, but it would also do excellently as a frosting for your favorite cakes or cupcakes. 

Cookies Frosted with Matcha Buttercream Frosting


¾ cup softened unsalted butter 

2 ½ cups powdered sugar 

2 tbsp everyday matcha powder 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

2-3 tbsp whole milk or cream (as needed) 

Pinch of salt 


Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add in your powdered sugar about a half cup at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Beat in your vanilla extract and salt for 1-2 minutes, adjusting flavors to your liking. Once mixture is pale and airy, use a sifter to add in your matcha, one tablespoon at a time (do not skip sifting, as matcha powder is prone to clumping). Beat until no streaks remain and frosting is a uniform vibrant green. If consistency is too dense, beat in 2-3 tablespoons of milk or cream until light, fluffy, and easily spreadable. Use liberally for cookie decoration, cake frosting, or your treats of choice. Enjoy! 

By: Jen Coate

Dragon’s Moon Soup

Chilly autumn days call for some of our favorite cozy things! Warming hot teas, delicious soups… which gave us an idea. Why choose one tasty thing when you can have both? This hearty vegan soup makes perfect use of our favorite fall herbs and veggies, swapping out a traditional broth base for a concentrated black tea infusion to give it extra body and character. Savory, rich, and surprisingly substantial, this soup will store in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen for later use within a few months. 

Dragon’s Moon Soup 

(Serves 6) 


4-5 pieces Dragon’s Moon tea (or approx. 20 grams of any strong Chinese black tea) 

4 cups of water 

1 large butternut squash (approx. 3 lbs) 

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 medium yellow onion, chopped 

½ teaspoon sea salt 

3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and chopped 

½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced 

½ tablespoon fresh thyme, minced 

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped 

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated 

Fresh-ground black pepper 

Salt and nutmeg to taste 

Chopped parsley, toasted nuts or pepitas, or crusty bread (for serving, optional) 

For the tea infusion: 

In a small pot or heat-resistant bowl, pour boiling water over your Dragon’s Moon tea. Steep for five minutes, then remove and discard the leaves and set liquid aside for later. 

For the soup: 

  1. Begin by roasting your squash and carrot. Preheat oven to 375° F. While it is warming, peel your squash, trim off the stem and bottom, and slice it lengthwise down the center. Scoop out the seeds and dice into approx. 1” cubes. Spread on a baking tray along with your peeled and chopped carrot. Brush all vegetables with oil, then roast for 30-40 minutes until easily pierced with a fork. (Note: while this step is optional, it will add extra flavor and reduce your soup’s cooking time considerably). 
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven on stovetop over medium heat. Once shimmering, add onion, sea salt, and a few grinds of pepper, sautéing 5-10 minutes until soft. 
  1. Add in your squash and carrot and cook 3-5 minutes, just enough to lightly brown. (Note: if you forgo initial roasting, this may take closer to 10-12 minutes). 
  1. Add herbs, ginger, and garlic, stirring and cooking until nicely fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  1. Add 3 cups of your tea infusion, reserving one final cup. Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer 20-30 minutes until squash is very tender. 
  1. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth and homogenous. (Note: this can also be achieved using a regular blender or by hand with a potato masher). Adjust thickness of soup by adding small amounts of your remaining tea infusion until consistency is to your liking. 
  1. Season generously with salt and freshly ground nutmeg, tasting for flavor. Serve immediately, topping with fresh parsley and chopped nuts or pepitas. This soup pairs beautifully with a dark herb salad and warm crusty bread. 

By: Jen Coate