On this famous Korean island paradise, massive orchards filled with Jeju tangerine trees have been feeding the entire country for centuries!
by Cari Kamja 🍠
Dating all the way back to the 1200s in Korea, the Jeju tangerine has been a favorite fruit for their health benefits, and of course, their taste. These little cuties have been curing scurvy and bad days for thousands of years.
So what are you waiting for? You have to try one!
Jeju Island is often called Korea’s Hawaii, an island paradise that is now a hot spot for honeymoons, music video shoots, and family vacations. Its warmer temperatures allow the island to grow all sorts of special food, like famous hallabong (giant oranges) or my personal favorite, kamgyul (sweet tangerines)!
Since the 13th century, there are records of the Korean government organizing and promoting the farming of these tasty tangerines, or gyul. Boxes upon boxes were delivered to the royal family twice a year, and Jeju Island became the center of the Korean tangerine world.
The tangerines were widely studied and written about, thanks to their high concentration of vitamin C. Old medical journals touted these little guys as the key food to avoid scurvy, get rid of colds, and even combat fat gain.
They were seen as so important to a healthy diet that farmers made sure not to waste any part of the fruit. To this day, seeds and skins are dried out in a field in Jeju (photo above) to be used in traditional Korean medicine!
Nowadays, its much easier to get your hands on these delicious treats. It’s common for Korean families to order a massive box from Jeju Island each winter, and supermarkets have bags on sale for you to pick up for cheap!
During gyul season, which is usually around winter time, tangerines can be less than 50 cents each, while they’re much more expensive other times of the year.
Tangerines are now a popular diet food, and are still celebrated for their health benefits like fighting off winter colds. It is common for students to bring a few for their teachers in winter, much like the American tradition of leaving a teacher an apple.
Jeju Island definitely makes the most of its famous fruit. When visiting the island it is easy to find pretty much everything you could imagine in tangerine flavor. The most popular item is kamgyul juice (sweet tangerine juice) and is sold freshly squeezed right in front of you. It tastes like you’re drinking sunshine!
Another popular souvenir from Jeju is their tangerine flavored chocolates and small baked goods. The sweets often come in the shape of a Dol Hareubang (Old Grandfather) which are common statues and sort of the mascot of the Island. These come in the traditional flavors of Jeju: tangerine, hallabong, and green tea.
If you want the full experience, during the harvesting season, some farmers allow you to come to the farm and pick your own tangerines straight from the trees!
It’s a pretty popular couple and friend activity, and there is nothing tastier than a freshly picked Jeju tangerine. When planning your trip to Jeju, check if this is available! You’ll have more tangerines than you can carry, along with some great memories.
If you ever get your hands on one of these little bundles of happiness, be sure to be careful with the peel! It’s known to be good luck if you can peel off all the skin in one giant piece. It takes a bit of practice, but chances are you’ll be eating hundreds of these tangerines so you’ll get plenty of chances to perfect the art of peeling.
Is anyone else’s mouth watering just thinking about these kamgyul?