Thursday, December 19, 2019

Korean Yuja Byungcha (yuzu stuffed with black tea)

I'm sure you've had tea with citrus flavors added in, but have you tried a citrus stuffed with black tea? I had many interesting kinds of Korean tea on my recent trip, and it was tough to pick which one I wanted to share with you first. Given the holidays and frigid temps, I think it's the perfect time of year to talk about Yuja Byungcha. A Yuzu stuffed with black tea.

Yuja Byungcha tea has an amazing natural citrus flavor and aroma. The steeped black tea with crushed bits of yuzu rind is a lovely warming tea for winter, and the flavor is quite festive for the holidays. I've been drinking this tea almost every day, I find it flavorful and invigorating. When I had a sore throat, drinking this with a bit of honey was incredibly soothing.

Please note, this tea is different from yuja cha, which if you search online usually brings back recipes for a delicious herbal recipe for yuzu, honey, lemon, and often ginger, to keep in the fridge all winter long. I actually have a jar in my fridge and have been drinking it in the evenings. Now, on to the byungcha...

Making Yuja Byungcha Korean Yuzu Stuffed Black Tea
This tea has two basic elements, yuzu and black tea. The yuzu are harvested at the end of November. They are washed, and the inside is scooped out and juiced. The juice is reserved and used to flavor the tea. The tea used is black tea (referred to as hong cha or balhyocha) harvested and processed in the spring. The processed leaves are sprayed with the yuzu juice, just enough to soften the leaves and filled inside the hollowed out yuzu. Byung means to bottle, which makes sense since the black tea is basically bottled inside the yuzu.

About 30-40 grams of tea fit inside one yuzu. Once filled, the top is put back on and the yuzu is tied with twine. After the yuzu are prepared with the tea, they go through a steaming and drying process 6 times, and each time the twine is tightened. Then they are left for a final drying outdoors in the breeze and sun. 

In my previous post. I mentioned how Korean tea is deeply tied to nature, and this is no exception. Drying the tea outside in the natural elements in a crucial step. The whole process takes about 2 months. This is a slow process that allows layers of flavor to build inside the tea. The finished product is about 1/2 the size of the original fresh yuzu!

crushed yuzu and black tea

Steeping the Yuja Byungcha
To prepare this tea, you need to crush up that beautiful tea-stuffed yuzu. Do not steep the whole thing in a pot! First, remove the twine from the yuzu and take off the top. Then place the yuzu on its side on a paper towel, and gently crush it. You shouldn't need too much force. The citrus will break into pieces, and the black tea will spill out. You can crush the yuzu into smaller pieces as well. 

Add 3-4 grams total of tea and small bits of yuzu in about 200ml of water that's just off the boil. I steep mine for about 3-5 minutes. This can be re-steeped about 5 times. Take the rest of your yuzu tea and put it in an opaque, air-tight canister for later. You can also age the yuzu whole, if you can avoid temptation and wait!

It's tough to find these teas for sale in the US. I have been able to purchase them at World Tea Expo, but an internet search doesn't come up with much. Right now Screen Tea is selling a few, she was on the Korea trip with us and she brought them back for sale. I'm waiting to hear from another source that may be selling these teas soon, and will update the post with a link when that happens.


  1. Interesting! I was thinking of chenpi puer when I read this - is it similar?

    1. Hi, it reminds me of those as well! I'm not sure the exact processing for the chenpi puer, but they are a specific kind if mandarin orange stuffed with shou. I also don't think they use the juice of the mandarins, but again I'm not sure. But it is similar, definitely!