Green or yellow mandarin, orange, pomelo and lemon, all could be chosen as peel materials; black tea, strong-fermented oolong tea and dark tea as filler materials; dry flowers are also considered as proper fillers, rose, jasmin…; here we used ripe mandarins from a friend‘s home garden in Sicily and our Gong Ting Pu’er- Imperial Pu’er. Cut mandarins open and remove all inner parts, then put loose Pu’er tea inside,
there are many ways to dry, sun dry or oven etc., we used dehydrater here at low temperature in order to keep original tea fragrances. Small size mandarins normally need 10-12 hours to dry completely, big mandarins normally cost much more time and patience, it would be the best every a few hours to check, these big mandarins on the photos were dehydrated for 20 hours.
When the mandarin peels turn wrinkled and crisp, at the same time, high fragrances of mandarin oil come out, it is the right time to stop. Each mandarin should be wrapped up with paper individually, clean rice paper could be a good choice.
2017 unripened green mandarin from Sardinia vs. 2018 ripe mandarin from Sicily
Because of different peel materials, even with same tea fillers, their tastes and fragrances could differ greatly from each other. For example, the unripened mandarain Pu’er tea has a pleasant sour but with a “sweet” aftertast, every fresh and smooth, and the ripe mandarain Pu’er tea is much more mellow and more sweet.