From baths to tea, 5 ways to use yuzu to survive winter in Japan

Though daylight is fading earlier and earlier each day as we get deeper into winter when the sun turns yellow Yuzu (Japanese citrus) hits supermarket shelves, it’s hard not to be excited. Its cheerful color, energizing scent, and immune-boosting properties make yuzu the natural choice to alleviate a variety of wintertime concerns.

Traditionally, the winter solstice is celebrated by taking a bath infused with yuzu, which perfumes the entire room with an invigorating aroma—a practice dating back to the Edo period. But the fruit also appears in Japanese cuisine; for example in yuzu cha (yuzu tea), a popular sweet tea made from canned yuzu. Here we’ve rounded up five ways you can use this seasonal fruit to help you survive and thrive during winter in Japan.

1. Take a yuzu bath

Photo: iStock: taka4332

Yuzu baths have been practiced since the Edo era sent (public bathhouses) began using the fragrant fruit to appeal to customers. Taking a yuzu bath was said to help prevent colds by increasing circulation and warming the body, so it became a common practice around the winter solstice — the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The yuzu bath also serves another purpose. Strong scents are said to ward off evil spirits (also why incense is burned in Japanese temples and shrines), so a yuzu bath is said to cleanse the body.

The whole yuzu fruit can be added to your bath as is, but to maximize flavor, be sure to pierce the skin first. Take a knife and score the skin through the pulp. Submerge them in your bath and gently squeeze the fruit into the water. For easier clean-up, pop the yuzu into a mesh bag and save yourself the hassle of mushy after-effects. You can also reuse the yuzu and enjoy citrus-scented baths for the next few days.

2. Warm up with yuzu tea or a “hot toddy”

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