Chenpi or chen pi (Chinese: 陈皮, pinyin: chénpí) is sun-dried tangerine (mandarin) peel used as a traditional seasoning in Chinese cooking and traditional medicine. They are aged by storing them dry. They have a pungent and bitter taste. First taste of its herb is slightly sweet and aftertaste is bitter. Their attribute is warm. Chenpi has a common name, ‘ju pi’ or mandarin orange peel.[1]

Chenpi contains volatile oils, nobiletin, hesperidin, neohesperidin, tangeridin, citromitin, synephrine, carotene, cryptoxanthin, inositol, vitamin B1 and vitamin C.[2] Traditional Chinese herbal medicine utilizes the alcohol extracts of several citrus peels for specific health support, including those of mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata ‘Blanco’) and bitter orange (C. aurantium).

Sun-dried tangerine peels(Chenpi)


The practice of getting citrus peels originated from Song Dynasty and has lasted for seven hundred years. Chenpi was of high popularity until Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was shipped to foreign provinces by businessmen from Xinhui in Guangdong. Due to its significant medical effect, a famous Qing doctor, Ye Gui (1667-1746) prescribed Chenpi as one of the ingredients in ‘Erchen Tang’, a decoction consisting two old drugs. Chenpi business brought wealth to Xinhui peasants and it also extended to food processing, logistics areas which forms a food production chain. However, there was a decline of Chenpi business in 90s but starting from December 2002, under the support of Xinhui Agriculture Bureau and Business Federation, Chenpi farmers helped set up Chenpi Industrial Association. Chenpi gained popularity again since then.[3]

Production Method

Xinhui chenpi is famous for its special production technique. Xinhui people put emphasis on peeling and storage method. People can also do it at home.[4]

  1. Wash tangerine peel with water and dry it with a towel.
  2. Peel off the skin into three equal parts with the base connecting to each other. (Do not scratch the pulp, as the juice inside would contaminate the quality of the final product.)
  3. Remove the peel carefully, and turn it over after the peel softens.
  4. Dry the peel with sunlight.
  5. Store the peel in a dry and cool place; or seal it in a air-tight container and dry under sunlight regularly, to ensure the peel is in good condition.
  6. After years of aging, the peel would transform into Chenpi.


After soaking and rinsing Chenpi with cold water until it becomes soft, gently scraping off the white pith from the softened peel. It should be soaked no longer than half an hour with a view to retaining its flavour.[5]



Some tong sui desserts such as red bean soup will use this occasionally. Chenpi is used to make the Hunanese dish Orange Chicken.[6] Chenpi can be served as food or beverage, for instance, Chenpi mooncakes, green bean soup jam and wine. Drinking Chenpi tea is beneficial to sore throat. As Chenpi helps poor appetite and digestive problem, there are famous dishes like Chenpi porridge, duck and pigeon.[7]


Chenpi is a common ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, dried peels of fruits are used in regulation of ch'i, (or qi) fortification of the Spleen, elimination of dampness and also used to treat abdominal distension, to enhance digestion, and to reduce phlegm.[8] It solves digestion problem by relieving intestinal gas and bloating. Chenpi can improve problems of pain, poor appetite, vomiting and hiccups. Its alcohol extracts relieve cough with copious sputum.[9]

Based on pharmacological studies, Chenpi has bioactive properties which prevent smooth muscle contraction in gastrointestinal tract, gastric ulcer and gastric acid secretion. It has stimulatory effects on heart muscle and increase of coronary artery blood flow. Besides, it has anti-allergic and antibacterial effects.[10]

There is a well-known Chenpi-made medicine named ‘snake gallbladder and tangerine peel powder’. One of its functions is to treat wind-heat which affects human’s lung. It will cause fever, cough, expectoration of phlegm and difficult breathing. The powder can also treat sequelae of heart disharmonies.[11]

When Chenpi is used with carotenoids, subacute oral toxicity arises. Carotene-rich foods include baked sweet potato, cooked carrots, cooked dark green vegetables (e.g. spinach) etc.[12] It should be used cautiously to patients suffering from vomiting of blood. Prolonged use of large doses may finally harm qi.[13]

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) urges caution in using Chenpi when red symptoms occur such as red tongue, redness in the face. In addition, pregnant women or those who have menstrual problems should use it carefully. Small doses lead to inhibition of uterus contraction while large doses will cause stimulation of it.[14]


Whole citrus peel is readily available from most herbal markets and specialty food stores. Some stores also sell citrus peel powder or capsules.[15]

Starting from around 2010, land in China is developed for commercial and residential use. Number of farmland, especially those in Xinhui is shrinking and this affects business of Xinhui citrus and Chenpi supply. It is a major contributor to price increase of Chenpi.[16]


Price of Chenpi rises with the length of its history. Based on data in late 2014, Xinhui Chenpi with a year history costs around 140 (HKD) per kilogram and 600-800 (HKD) for 10-year ones. Chenpi stored for more than 20 years can be nearly 24,000 (RMB) per kilogram. 65-year Chenpi even costs 23,000 (RMB) per tael (両). Wholesale price of Chenpi costs 40-70 (HKD) per pound.[17][18]


Chenpi that is big in size, integrated with deep-red scarfskin and white interior, and plenty of flesh heavy oil, dense fragrance and pungency is of its best quality.[19]

In general, old-aged Chenpi is in a higher quality. It is also the reason why it is being called Chenpi, as its literal translation is “the old peels”. Since the products produced in Xinhui are of the best quality owing to rich supply of citrus, it is often called Xinhui Pi or Guang Chen Pi. It is normally cut into shreds before serving and presenting in the raw form.[20]

See also


  1. Balch, Phyllis A. (2002-01-01). Prescription for Herbal Healing. Penguin (p. 47). ISBN 9780895298690.
  2. Li, Xu (2002-01-01). Chinese Materia Medica: Combinations and Applications. Elsevier Health Sciences (p. 272-273). ISBN 1901149021.
  3. "景盛庄". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  4. "新會廣陳皮網 陳皮 新會陳皮 新會特產 陳皮網 新會柑 新會皮 柑皮 陳皮文化 茶枝柑廣陳皮產地 陳皮原料 陳皮食療 陳皮功效 中藥陳皮 廣東特產". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  5. Lee, Sharon. "Herb: Dried Tangerine Peel". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  6. Lo, Eileen Yin-Fei (1999). "Poultry and Other Fowl". The Chinese Kitchen. calligraphy by San Yan Wong (1st ed.). New York, New York: William Morrow and Company. p. 314. ISBN 0-688-15826-9. ORANGE CHICKEN Chun Pei Gai Pan Traditionally this Hunan recipe contained what is called chun pei, or ‘old skin,’ to describe the dried citrus peel used in its preparation.
  7. Liu, Yanze; Wang, Zhimin; Zhang, Junzeng (2015-05-18). Dietary Chinese Herbs: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Clinical Evidence. Springer Science & Business Media (p. 335-337). ISBN 9783211994481.
  8. Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. 1985. Los Angeles: Institute of Chinese Medicine.
  9. Li, Xu (2002-01-01). Chinese Materia Medica: Combinations and Applications. Elsevier Health Sciences (p. 272-273). ISBN 1901149021.
  10. Liu, Yanze; Wang, Zhimin; Zhang, Junzeng (2015-05-18). Dietary Chinese Herbs: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Clinical Evidence. Springer Science & Business Media (p. 335-337). ISBN 9783211994481.
  11. Zhu, Chun-Han (1989-01-01). Clinical Handbook of Chinese Prepared Medicines. Paradigm Publications (p.80). ISBN 9780912111438.
  12. Liu, Yanze; Wang, Zhimin; Zhang, Junzeng (2015-05-18). Dietary Chinese Herbs: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Clinical Evidence. Springer Science & Business Media (p.335-337). ISBN 9783211994481.
  13. Brand, Eric; Wiseman, Nigel (2008-01-01). 间明中药学. Paradigm Publications (p.225). ISBN 9780912111827.
  14. Balch, Phyllis A. (2002-01-01). Prescription for Herbal Healing. Penguin (p.47). ISBN 9780895298690.
  15. "Citrus peel (chen pi)". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  16. "陳皮有價有市 愈老愈值錢 - 東方日報". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  17. Lee, Sharon. "Herb: Dried Tangerine Peel". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  18. "吳煒龍: 陳皮的價值". 信報. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  19. "Chen Pi - TCM Wiki". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  20. "Citrus Peel (Chen Pi)". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
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