Adventures in Yuja-chaJanuary 27, 2014 • By Becky
The most recent issue of Saveur Magazine was their annual “100”-themed issue. It consists of 100 tidbits about food; everything from a restaurant, a dish, a product or, in this one, even Staten Island. They also had an item about a food photography app called Snapseed that I use now. Not that you would know it from looking at my photos (it’s rough to post my photos on the same website as Ryan Donahue).
One of the items that piqued my interest was Yuja-cha, a Korean citron “tea”. They explain that it’s made by curing yuzu in a syrup of honey and sugar, and then mixing it with hot water.
Luckily, because of the melting pot we live in, I immediately knew that it would be relatively easy to get my hands on a jar. After reading about the supermarket Koreana Plaza in Rancho Cordova over and over I figured I would kill two birds with one stone by checking it out and getting a jar of yuja-cha.
I texted my friend Liv Moe, who is always a good companion on any food adventure (we once drove all the way to Bakersfield for a Basque meal, but that’s another story). She replied that she had been there the day before for over 2 hours but that she was game.
I will not belabor the point that this market is incredible and dizzying, although maybe I’ll post about other individual stuff in the future. Come to think of it, it would probably be worth a weekly post that focuses on one aspect every time. I also snapped up some Korean yeasted pumpkin pancake mix and fresh tortillas.
Liv and I started to look around. After about 15 minutes without luck we fortuitously spotted two of Liv’s friends, one of whom is Korean American. She led us straight to the aisle and told us about different varieties (including plum and ginger). She steered us away from a couple of types and we puzzled over a green fruit that none of us recognized called chaenomeles – a deciduous shrub related the the Chinese quince. Some of these teas are not cheap, so I only bought the ginger and the citron.
Saveur had advised that one should steer away from any with a long list of ingredients, so I chose the Kunyang brand, which only had citron, sugar and honey. Well, ok, oligosaccharides, which turns out is another type of sugar. The charming motto of Kunyang is “healthy life with nature”.
I got it home, turned on my coffeenerd kettle with the precise temp control (best gadget I have ever purchased besides my Kitchenaid coffee grinder) and drank up. It’s a soothing, delicious drink that is lightly sour and sweet. The rinds accumulate at the bottom and you can choose whether to eat or discard.
Citrus is the perfect antidote to the winter blues, but as we all know our winter consisted of a two week cold snap followed by depressingly samey weather. Oh well, the directions say you can also mix with cold water.