Recipe: kumquat tea

When I was growing up the entrance of our home was flanked by two bountiful kumquat (cumquat) plants in shapely Italian terracotta pots.  My sister and I loved to play with the ‘little oranges’, daring each other to try to eat the sour fruit without squinting.  At that time, Asian food (and fruits) were not so common in Australia and my mother did not have many recipes for cooking the kumquats.  (Although she did once try unsuccessfully to preserve them in brandy.)  A shame she had not yet been introduced her to Taiwanese cuisine, which finds all sorts of uses for kumquats — including the deliciously tangy sweet kumquat tea.

Kumquat tea (金桔茶) is a staple at night marketsm where it is often sold cold as a refreshing citrus drink.  In trendy teahouses and cafes it is also served hot in glass teapots, decorated with kumquat rind and other pieces of fruit.  I always thought there was a magic art to making kumquat tea.  Actually, like many homestyle Taiwanese recipes it is very simple.  In fact you could just make it just from kumquat juice, sugar and hot water. 

But I like my kumquat tea strong and sweet, so thanks to a basic recipe provided my culintary talented Taiwanese friend Mei, I have come up with modified version to suit my own (Western and very sweet) tastes.  In Taiwan it is common to add salty plums to the kumquat tea to add extra flavour, but it is fine to omit this (I did).  And it is also common to add lemon, transforming it into Kumquat lemon tea (金桔檸檬茶).


For a 500ml teapot

50ml kumquat juice (I used nine small cumquats)
1/2 small lemon or lime
1 tablespoon rock sugar or honey
1 salty plum (optional)
4-5 kumquat rinds (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons black or green tea
Boiling water


1.  Squeeze the kumquats.  As they are tiny, this can be a little fiddly.  (I ended up with a squirt of kumquat juice in my eye on my first attempt!)  Through trial and error, I worked out that the easiest way is to perch the tiny kumquats on top of the juicer as if they were a ‘hat’ and gently press down to extract the juice.

2.  Squeeze the lemon or lime.

Adding kumquat and lime juice to the rock sugar

3.  Add the sugar, kumquat and lemon/lime juice to a teapot.  Add in some half-squeezed kumquat rinds, and if you wish some additional chopped fruit and/or a salty plum.  Add in one to two teaspoons of tea leaves (if possible, use a teapot that has a separate section for stewing tea leaves). 

Ready to brew — all ingredients assembled except the water

4.  Pour over the boiling water and allow to steep for a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy hot or cold.

Note on the tea:  I used a mild, slightly-smokey black tea grown in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan.  But any tea is fine, depending on what you prefer.  The citrus flavours are quite strong so the tea only provides background depth to the drink.

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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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5 Responses to Recipe: kumquat tea

  1. Wei-Teng Yang says:

    Hi there,

    I found your website accidentally while I was wandering around online looking at Chinese/Taiwanese food recipes to introduce to my friends. I am from 彰化 but has been living in Baltimore, USA for 3 years. I just wanna thank you for operating such a great blog so the food and culture that I love so much can be known by many more.



    • taiwanxifu says:

      Dear Wei, thank you for your kind comments. Taiwanese food is delicious, isn’t it? A shame that Taiwanese food and culture is still relatively unknown, but hopefully this will change!

  2. i love tea n as i was searching ”how to make kumquat–pickle–[dried, salty-]i have not been able to find it yet..] it is very good for stomach. i bought few packets from china.i have few trees laden with kumquats n few growing in porcelain pots… thank you very much for giving us such an illustrated version of this tea..i’ll make it n enjoy every sip…keep it up………………………………..FROM–ATIYA SAROJ.march,2nd,2013.1’0 clock[pm]

  3. Pingback: This is Very Important | keepcalmeatdumplings

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