In winter, many cafes in Korea offer yuja tea (citron tea). A traditional tea characterized by a golden yellow color and a sweet-and-sour taste, it is one of the most popular healthy drinks among Koreans. In addition to its vivid color and refreshing taste, yuja tea has a lot of nutrition to offer. Its main ingredient, yuja, contains three times the amount of vitamin C found in lemons. The fruit is also rich in organic acids and hesperidin, so it is effective for fighting colds, neuralgia, and strokes. Moreover, it is helpful in recovery from fatigue and beneficial for skin care.
For its multiple benefits, yuja tea is receiving a good response from those outside of Korea who are interested in a healthy lifestyle, especially in China and Japan. Established in Incheon Metropolitan City in 2002, Taekwan Co., Ltd. has grown into a large-scale distributor steadily supplying different types of Korean food products (including seasoned seaweed, seaweed snacks, baby snacks, sauces, and noodles) to Chinese companies in Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian, and Guangzhou.
The company’s main export item is yuja tea. Ryu Chang-soo, the CEO of Taekwan Co., Ltd., has been heading the Korea Yuja Tea Council since June 2015. Composed of officers from MAFRA (the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs), aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation) and Korean yuja tea exporters, the Council was established to explore foreign markets and increase the competitiveness of Korean products. As the head of the Council, Mr. Ryu has focused his efforts on expediting the response to issues related to export quarantine inspections and food hygiene and improving the products’ quality.
Promoting Export of Yuja Tea Based on Authentic Taste and High Quality Taekwan Co., Ltd. started gaining fame as an exporter of yuja tea in 2011. Mr. Ryu explains: “As the company was expanding, overseas buyers started contacting us with offers, so we decided to begin exports and created our export brand, Seonjiwon Yuja Tea, in 2011. Seonjiwon means ‘healthy food coming fresh from a farm’ in Chinese.”
Seonjiwon Yuja Tea stands out with its vivid yellow color and strong fragrance. The secret is in the ingredients: it is made from yuja cultivated in the advantageous natural environment of Goheung County. The sea breeze, for example, gives the fruit a firmer texture. Mr. Ryu says, “We use the fruit only from Goheung County. When consumers have our yuja tea, they like that yuja slices are not soft.”The yuja content in the tea is high: 75%. Since yuja easily turns bad in the heat or under strong light, the products are sterilized in an instant at a high temperature and then rapidly cooled. The method also helps maintain the unique flavor of yuja while minimizing the loss of nutrients. The company recently released a new flavor, Seonjiwon Pomegranate Yuja Tea. It is especially popular among female consumers.
Planning to Enter the ASEAN Market Through China These days, Taekwan Co., Ltd. has been investing much effort to developing new products and breaking into the ASEAN market. According to Mr. Ryu, the company received several inquiries from ASEAN importers thanks to Hong Kong buyers who introduced its products in the region. He added that foreign buyers also inspired Taekwan Co., Ltd. to create fusion tea products in which apple, ginger, plum, and strawberry are added to yuja. Mr. Ryu explains, “We gathered opinions of buyers whom we met at international food expos, and it turned out that there is a good chance to succeed in pioneering new markets with fusion tea. We are doing our best to develop yuja-based fusion fruit tea products that can appeal as a healthy tea to female consumers and higher-income groups in ASEAN countries.”