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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

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

Tea Pairings for a Late Summer Harvest

When it comes to fresh produce, there’s no season more abundant than late summer. If you spent your spring planting and weeding, you may find your home garden filled to bursting, while local farmer’s markets are more bountiful than ever. 

Basket of Fresh Veggies

With such a wonderful recent harvest, we’ve been having fun experimenting here at Dominion Tea, pairing up some of our favorite teas with dishes made from seasonal produce. Yes, pairing – just like wine, tea’s widely diverse range of flavors and complexity means that a proper match with food can lead to beautiful complementary tastes. But just like wine, the art of pairing food with tea is a delicate balance, combining flavors without overwhelming any one component. 

Curious to give it a try? Here are some of our favorite combinations for the late summer season. 

Red Alishan Oolong

Overwhelmed with cucumbers and tomatoes? Nothing beats a classic Greek Salad with feta, oregano, and olive oil. Try pairing it with our Red Alishan Oolong to enhance its sweet and earthy flavors. Remember that balance is important when it comes to tea and foods, so go light on the vinegar and onions if you use them. 

If you have squash or zucchini and you’re feeling adventurous, break out your spiralizer for a veggie-forward take on classic carbonara. Not only do vegetable noodles offer a healthy (and keto-friendly) alternative to traditional pastas, these garden mainstays pair delightfully with woody, malty Chinese black teas like Yunnan Sunrise or Keemun Mao Feng

For herb lovers, put fresh-plucked oregano and basil to use in a simple herb dressing, an easy and versatile fridge staple that can be applied to fish, chicken, salads, and so much more. Try with a cup of our White Monkey to augment its bracing freshness. 

Sweet and rich summer corn is delicious no matter how you prepare it, whether it’s seared on the grill or fried up with elote spices for a fun summer side dish. Pair with classic Chinese green tea like Huang Shan Mao Feng to enhance its creamy sweetness. 

2nd Flush Darjeeling

And for dessert, there are few things better than a warm fruit cobbler, especially when it’s made with fresh and juicy summer peaches and plums. Serve with a cup of 2nd Flush Darjeeling to bring out the tea’s naturally rich and fruity muscatel finish. Enjoy! 

By: Jen Coate

History of Green Tea: A Trip through Time

Tea plant

Of all the tea types, green tea has an extraordinarily long and complex history, far beyond what historical records can adequately cover. Tracing its development from what evidence we do have, however, gives us a fascinating cross-section of tradition and culture.

The discovery of tea in China is legendarily placed around 3000 BCE, by Shen Nong, the divine cultivator. Although the veracity of the date is impossible to confirm, written records indicate that tea was certainly being consumed for medicinal purposes by 59 BCE. Preparation would have been minimal compared to today’s processing, as tea leaves were simply plucked, ground, and then boiled with other herbs and spices into a thick and bitter concoction.

By the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), tea consumption was commonplace throughout the empire, gaining popularity first in the imperial courts, then spreading across the countryside and among the nomadic peoples in the north and west. By this point, tea leaves were processed after plucking by being steamed to stop oxidation, and then pounded into compressed cakes. Pieces of these cakes would be broken off when needed, and ground into a fine powder, which was then whipped into hot water (much like Japanese matcha, which was developed from this tradition). It was during this era that Chinese scholar Lu Yu wrote his Classic of Tea, an extensive treatise on tea types, philosophy, cultivation, and preparation, which laid the foundation for Chinese tea culture as we know it. Some of China’s most famous teas are mentioned in this work, including Dragon Well (Longjing) and Liu An Gua Pian (Melon Seed Tea). Green tea drinking became a Chinese institution, and gradually spread to its neighboring countries of Japan and Korea, whose people would go on to develop their own tea cultivars and tea-drinking cultures.

Tea fields in Fuding, China. In the history of green tea, this is one of the oldest growing regions.

The Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) saw the rise in popularity of loose-leaf green tea, sometimes blended with ingredients such as onion, pickle juice, ginger, or orange peel. Throughout the long eras of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (1279-1644 CE), loose leaf green tea gradually began to dominate the Chinese market, and producers began to pan-fry leaves to stop oxidation instead of steaming them.

By the time tea was introduced to Western merchants in the 16th century, the green tea being produced by China was almost entirely the same as the beverage we know today – the process of many centuries of careful refinement and long tradition.

By: Jen Coate