Surely you’re familiar with the tangerine (aka mandarin), with it’s sunny orange hue and juicy, vibrant burst of sweet citrus flavor, but did you know that you can use the peel of the tangerine to make a delicious tea, which can help to soothe what ails you? Read on to learn why this is the perfect time of year to incorporate this elixir into your routine.

Ancient History

You may have never heard of this ancient remedy before, but it’s no new kid on the block! Tangerine peel has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and cooking for thousands of years and is known is Chenpi or chen pi. It was sometimes aged for years before being used, in order to increase its medicinal effects.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chenpi is known break up congestion and to normalize the flow of qi (the term for life force or energy), as well as to encourage the natural flow of liquids (think blood, lymph, etc.) throughout the body.

Uses & Benefits

Tangerine peel has been indicated for a laundry list of ailments, from cancer to gastric ulcers, stress, high cholesterol, blood sugar imbalances, low blood pressure, premature aging and just about any sort of digestive issue that you can imagine. It’s known to raise the metabolic rate and help with bloating, hiccups, vomiting, diarrhea….you name it!

But today I want to highlight tangerine peel’s benefits relating to cold and flu season, as well as for seasonal allergies. For most people, it’s rare to make it through the winter season without coming down with at least one cold or flu (often more than one!) and seasonal allergies (right around the corner) affect 10-30% of the population worldwide.

The mighty tangerine peel contains a wealth of nutrients that can help to boost the immune system, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Choline, Folate, over 60 known flavonoids, d-limonene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, aldehydes, numerous minerals and vitamins.

It also contains a natural molecule called synephrine, which is a decongestant – very useful if you’re under the weather due to a cold, flu or seasonal allergies! It contains a TON of antioxidants which are anti-inflammatory and can help to prevent and shorten the duration of colds and flus and helps with wet coughs and breaking up mucus, especially if taken regularly. Tangerine peel is also highly antimicrobial, which helps your body to fight off any invaders before they can take hold.

Who would’ve thought that so much nutrition could be found in these humble citrus fruit peels that we’ve likely been tossing in the trash our whole lives?!

Ok, where can I find this magical ingredient?

I like to simply save the peels from the tangerines that I eat, then I air dry the peels naturally (bonus points if you dry them in the sun, which is the traditional method!) and grind them up in a food processor (or chop into bits with a chef’s knife if you don’t own a food processor), then store in a cool, dry place. They should keep for several months this way.

Try to find organic tangerines if possible, since any pesticide residue from conventionally grown tangerine’s will be concentrated on the peel and skin. Fresh tangerines are typically found in the winter months in the US, but you may be able to find them at other times of the year as well.

If fresh tangerine’s aren’t available in your area or aren’t in season, you can order the dried peel online (Amazon) or check with your local Asian food market or health food store to see if they carry it.

Brew your tonic tea

Though you can use tangerine peel in cooking, I prefer to make a tea with it and enjoy it regularly to help ward off sickness, soothe digestion and give me a nice boost. It has a slightly sweet, slightly bitter taste that I find really refreshing.

To make the tea, simply steep a heaping teaspoon of dried chopped peel in hot water for a few minutes (longer for a stronger medicinal effect) and voila! Magical goodness abounds!

I suggest drinking 3-5 cups per day if you’re suffering from a cold or flu to help ward off symptoms and speed up healing and drinking a couple of cups per day on a regular basis to help with seasonal allergies. I also encourage eating the peel to boost the antioxidant support. Some of the used peels can even be given another life by adding them to various recipes or adding them to your bathwater to help melt away stress.

Mmmmm, tangerine bath anyone?

If the mood strikes but you don’t have any dried tangerine peels on hand, another option is to make a tea with fresh peels. Just take about a third of the fresh peel from one tangerine and crush it a bit with a mortar and pestle and then steep in hot water (covered, to retain the volatile oils) for up to an hour for best results. Enjoy!

There are SO many simple and inexpensive things that we can do on a daily basis to support optimum health. Why not give this ancient remedy a try this week?