The Jeju tangerine, or gamgyul, is a citrus fruit miracle, lauded across Jeju Island and South Korea at large. It’s true, Koreans love Jeju anything. From its summery island beaches to Iho Beach or the secret Hidden Beach of Jeju Island, South Korea, to its statuesque Hallasan Mountain, verdant O’Sulloc green tea fields, and its iconic Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbang), Jeju Island is an icon across South Korea. So, of course, there’s gonna be a lot of Jeju tangerine talk about how amazing and delicious the citrus fruits are. But how much of this is true? We went to a local Jeju tangerine farm to find out.
Tangerine Picking on Jeju Island, South Korea
Jeju tangerine groves are plentiful across the island. Upon the welcome of autumn in South Korea and throughout the winter, the rows of Jeju tangerine trees burst with the orange fruit—in fact, we chose Jeju tangerine picking as one of the top couples travel activities for autumn in Korea. Even more important, the scrumptious fruit plays an important role in Jeju Island’s culture and economy. If you make a visit to Jeju Island, South Korea during harvest time, it’s quite easy to get your own hand in some Jeju tangerine picking!
For our own venture into the Jeju Island, South Korea famed fruit, we visited the Gyulhyanggi farm near the Halla Arboretum in Shin Jeju (yes, the same Halla Arboretum we visited to see the Korean cherry blossom trees!). It’s super convenient for us, as it’s about a 20 minute walk from our apartment. The farm opens at 9 am and closes at 6 pm.
Looking for seasonal activities? Check out our favorite spots to enjoy Autumn in Korea!
During our visit, we had the entire grove to ourselves. We also saw persimmon trees, which are ubiquitous across South Korea this time of year, and yuzu trees.
For no extra cost, you can also use the farm’s gloves, clippers and baskets. The Jeju tangerine farm also had a small gift shop selling Jeju Island chocolates and citrus teas.
Take bus 740, 95 or 46 to Halla Arboretum in Shin Jeju and walk half a kilometer up the hill until you reach the farm.
Gyulhyanggi Agricultural Association
3118, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Phone Number: 010-4584-3356
If you’re staying on the south side of Jeju Island, you can take advantage of this discount for Jeju tangerine picking near Jeju Jungmun Resort for $4 USD for all-you-can-eat plus a kilo to take home!
The Zesty Truth of the Jeju Tangerine
So what’s the verdict on the Jeju tangerine?
It’s freaking delicious. The perfect blend of sweet and tart, it’s easy to see why the Jeju Island citrus fruit is famous all throughout South Korea. Small, seedless, and mouthwatering, the Jeju tangerine is tons of fun to harvest yourself. After all, what better way to enjoy the scrumptious fruit than fresh off the tree?
With its rich volcanic soil (also so conducive for the green tea plantations of the O’Sulloc Tea Museum), and a temperature averaging at 15 degrees Celsius, Jeju provides prime conditions for cultivating the vibrant fruit, and has been doing so for hundreds of years. Historical records show Jeju’s tangerines were valued throughout mainland Korea as long ago as the Goryeo Dynasty (which lasted from 918 to 1392). And in the Joseon Dynasty that followed (until 1897), these special Jeju Island tangerines were considered royal fruits, as they were gifted seasonally to the royal family. In fact, it wasn’t until the period of Japanese colonialism in which the special Jeju tangerine fruit became more readily available for your everyday men and women.
And good thing for us, because we ain’t no royalty! Even after stuffing our faces silly with the vibrant fruits at the farm, we still thoroughly enjoyed our kilos at home over the next week and even went back to buy more. As English teachers exposed frequently to children’s germs, we especially appreciate the increased citrus intake! The zesty dose of vitamin C is a wonderful medicine to treat those seasonal sniffles.
A Health Food of South Korea
While we’re quite thankful of that extra boost of Jeju tangerine vitamin C in our diets, the Jeju Island fruit has a long history in the herbal medicines of South Korea.
Naturally full of vitamins and bioactive compounds, the famed tangerine of Jeju Island, South Korea has impacted the country for centuries with its health benefits. Even during the Joseon Dynasty, the Jeju tangerine peels and seeds were sun-dried and integrated into herbal medicines. A medical book during this time goes through lengths to detail the benefits of the Jeju tangerine, from easing the common cough or even treating scurvy.
Even today, South Koreans praise the Jeju tangerine as a Korean health food. With pyridine, metabolism-raising enzymes, and xanthophylls, the Jeju tangerine provides nutrients helpful in preventing everything from obesity to arteriosclerosis, or even diabetes and cancer.
The tangerine fruit of Jeju Island, South Korea is some of the tastiest fruit we’ve had the pleasure of eating. Fragrant and flavorful, these perfect little fruits are like nature’s candy. The tangerines provide the perfect dose of sweetness for those autumn and winter months—and, even better, because the Jeju tangerine is so plentiful this time of year, they’re incredibly cheap across Jeju Island. If you’re lucky enough to visit South Korea’s favorite island during this part of the year, make sure to head to one of the many Jeju tangerine farms so you can enjoy picking them yourself!
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