The ponkan, mandarin orange produced in Asia, is known throughout the world as the thick skinned mandarin orange. It originally grows mainly around the 35th parallel which separates North and South Korea. In Taiwan the ponkan has a 200 year history, originating with cultivation transplanted from China. The mandarin is now one of Taiwan's main orchard fruits. The mandarin is the gift of choice for Taiwanese during holidays because the fruit's round shape reminds one of the circle of life that encompasses one's whole family and community, and the rich colors resemble the colors of royalty and golden wealth remind the recipient of the many blessings of life.
The ponkan mandarin orange is an autumn fruit, with most production between September to December. It is a fruit rich in fiber, Vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. Traditional Chinese medicine believe that the mandarin peel is considered a 'cool' food and can relieve dehydration, reduce phlegm and stimulate the lungs, assist in reducing constipation, and help reduce fever and aid digestion.
When the ponkan mandarin orange has just been harvested its peel contains a lot of citric acid and chlorophyll, with a less sweet taste and fragrance, but after a few days in the shade, the peel will brighten and the sweetness level will rise dramatically. The mandarin's fruit slices are large and easily peeled with a soft juicy flesh noted for its aromatic fragrance, most often consumed fresh but the mandarin is also excellent when served as fresh squeezed juice , marmalade. The peel is dried and used as a cooking spice or for desserts as mandarin orange peel, which is also a traditional Chinese medicinal health food.
The ponkan mandarin orange is a fruit produced in prodigious quantities in Taiwan, with the over 1000 tons produced in Tungshih Village of Taichung County being the best known production region on the market, while the Changhwa County Yuenlin Village mandarin has also earned a reputation throughout Taiwan. In light of the large areas of mandarin under cultivation in Taiwan, and the large production quantities, prices are naturally very attractive in comparison to other production regions, and of course, the sweet taste, rich juiciness, flavorful flesh, and high quality of Taiwan's ponkan mandarin oranges make it a premier agricultural commodity. Taiwan ponkans are exported mainly to Japan, Hong Kong and Canada.