The humble orange has been known for all of its European history as a medicinal fruit that has kept sailors from catching the dreaded scurvy. When it comes to the origins of this fruit it is difficult to trace since there are no examples of this fruit in the wild. Here at Indigo Herbs we have included a pure Bitter Orange Peel Herbal Tea to our wide selection of single teas. The bitter orange taste is a fantastic addition to add to other teas like Rooibos or can be sipped on its own for the refreshing awakening sensation it imparts.
Because Orange doesn’t grow in the wild it has been hard to see where it might have originated from. Many historians agree that it was probably cultivated many thousands of years ago in the Himalaya but in which country has remained a mystery. The most compelling evidence is that it was cultivated in India or China around 2,500 BC exclusively for nobility and that farmers competed with each other to grow the biggest sweetest fruits. Oranges reached Europe through the Romans and their excursions into Persia who in turn acquired the fruit from India. The Romans planted Orange trees in North Africa and they were popular with the ruling classes until the decline of the Roman Empire and the Rise of the Islamic Caliphate. When North Africa became under Islamic rule the Orange trees were taken back to Middle Eastern countries. With the Crusades in the 11th century the bitter orange was brought back into Italy. The sweet orange was unknown until the 15th century and was introduced to the Mediterranean by Portuguese and Italian traders where it soon became a fruit of opulence and luxury. By 1646 oranges were well known all over Europe and soon were planted along trade routes in places like the Caribbean to stop sailors from getting scurvy. It was the Spanish that introduced oranges to the Americas where they have since been cultivated into many different varieties.
There now exists many varieties of oranges that have different tastes, colours, sizes and mature at different times of the year. The majority of oranges that are grown today are the common orange which is used mainly for juice. Many hybrids and varieties are grown for special traits that are advantageous to the climate where they are grown. This might be early fruiting drought resistance or cold resistance. The orange tree has deep green leaves which grow in dense singles upon the branch with bursts of white flowers in spring. Fruiting completes at the end of summer.