Citron tea is something I’ve started to make at home once it begins to get cold outside in December. Drinking a glass right before bed helps me relax. Naturally packed with vitamin C, citron tea is a time-tested cold and flu remedy in Korea and Japan. Soothe your soul and a sore throat! 

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how to make citron tea

What is Citron Tea?

If you’re into watching Korean dramas on Netflix, you may have noticed this drink.

It originates in Korea, where it’s called yuja cha. The traditional Korean tea is also popular in Japan. 

I’m used to hearing the drink’s name in Japanese, yuzu cha.

If you speak Korean or Japanese, you know that the word cha in yuya cha (유자차) or yuzu cha (柚子茶) means tea.

Like herbal teas, yuzu tea doesn’t contain any tea leaves. 

It’s caffeine-free.

Store-bought Yuja/Yuzu Tea

In Japan, it’s typical to buy jars of imported yuzu cha from Korea. 

You’ll find it on the shelf at most supermarkets here.

The jars you buy contain a marmalade called yuja-cheong in Korean.

At home, you make citron tea by simply mixing the juja marmalade into hot water.

You can easily find a jar of it to try online. Note that the options available may be pricey, depending on where you live.

I like making my own healthier version with 100% local honey, no added white sugar, and no crappy additives.

It’s so simple to make it yourself.

Though, I’m beginning to wonder if I was a Korean grandmother in a previous life. 

sliced yuzu fruit on cutting board

What is Yuzu, the Fruit?

Yuzu is a citrus fruit that originally comes from central China. Nowadays, you’ll primarily find it grown in Korea, Japan, and China.

It’s possible to find the fruit outside of East Asia, though it will take some luck finding fresh yuzu to use-u.

At first glance, it looks like a knobbly-skinned, homely-looking lemon.

But looks can be deceiving. 

Don’t be fooled– its beauty is on the inside. Its fragrance is like no other.

The first time you breathe in the perfume of fresh yuzu, you will easily get over your past heartbreaks and fall head-over-peels in love. 

The taste is tart like grapefruit but with sweeter overtones of mandarin orange.

Helen Rossner in The New Yorker described yuzu as “more floral than an orange and nearly as tart as a lime, with a scent that is dense and disarming, the Froot-Loops-y honey of a lemon blossom wrapped around an astringent armature of industrial floor cleaner (which is somehow exquisite), then magnified tenfold, then mailed to the moon.” 

Similar to a lemon, it’s not eaten as a fruit in Japan. It’s commonly used as a zest or seasoning in Japanese cuisine and condiments.

yuzu citron peel sliced

Why is Yuzu banned in the US?

According to the New York Times,  the importation of fresh yuzu was banned to protect American growers from diseases prevalent in Asian groves. But yuzu is grown and sold domestically.

In the same Times article, it says that the trees were introduced in California before 1888, grown in home gardens by Japanese-American aficionados. 

About 30 years ago, enterprising farmers started growing yuzu, some perhaps illicitly, to fulfill a demand from chefs.

Disclaimer (Read this first!)

I want to warn you that this yuzu drink is so tasty!

In South Korea, they say once you try yuja cha,

you’ll get addicted.

Please note that this blog is for informational purposes only. I cannot accept any liability whatsoever.

If you do get caught drinking this delicious drink, please share your mug shot on Instagram and tag @eyesandhour and hashtag it #eyesandhour.  

putting yuzu in a jar

How to Make Citron Tea from Scratch

Once I realized just how easy it is to make my own yuzu cha from scratch, I stopped buying it and made my own.

Essentially, all it takes is learning a few tips for cutting the yuzu and knowing how to sterilize a glass jar. 

Once you squeeze the juice out and thinly slice the leftover peels,

there really isn’t much more to do.

Even removing the seeds is optional.

The thinly sliced peel, the juice, and flesh of the fruit gets mixed with honey.

Then, screw on the lid, let it sit for a day, and put it in the fridge.

In three or four days, you’ll have fresh, homemade yuzu marmalade.

Mix 2-3 spoonfuls with hot water and rejuvenate with a cup of yuzu tea!