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Difference Between Tangerine and Mandarin

Tangerine vs Mandarin

No, this is not about Chinese language that goes by the same name of mandarin, but rather about citrus fruits that has many varieties and subgroups within themselves and appear as oranges to the outside world. Both are found in South east China and at first glance, it is hard to tell the differences between tangerine and mandarin. Not only do they look alike, their taste is also similar and both grow on trees that also look similar. However, there are subtle differences that are easily caught by those who are native and like these citrus fruits dearly. Let us take a closer look.

To be frank and disappointing for those who expected these fruits to be totally different, tangerines are special types of mandarins, which implies that one can technically call a tangerine a mandarin though the reverse of this is not true. One can tell the difference by their skin color. Whereas, tangerines have a darker, reddish orange appearance, mandarins have a lighter skin that is characterized by their light orange color. Even the texture of the skin is different in both types of fruits with mandarin having thinner and smoother skin when compared with the skin of tangerine which is thicker has bumps. In fact, tangerine is the most abundantly found variety of mandarin oranges in China. Both are members of citrus fruit family rutaceae. But, when it comes to exports and shipping, tangerine proves to a better fruit as it is more sturdy and robust. Tangerine is considered better for exports to hot countries as it is able to survive in high temperatures for a few days. Mandarin gets bruised upon fall and because of rough handling which makes it less popular among exporters. When it comes to taste, tangerine oranges are a bit bitter while mandarin are sweet and gentle. When compared to oranges from other countries, both varieties are less tart. Of the two types, mandarin is easier to peel as its skin is harder but easier to peel off.

Portuguese took the fruit from Asian colonies to European colonies. There is an interesting story of the names of the two types of citrus fruits. Mandarin, though it refers to a Chinese language is not a Chinese word. On the other hand, tangerine comes from the port of Tangiers in Morocco.

What is the difference between Tangerine and Mandarin?

• Mandarin and tangerine are citrus fruits found in South east China.

• In fact, tangerine is a sub category of mandarin.

• Tangerine is darker in skin color being reddish orange, whereas mandarins are lighter in skin color.

• Tangerine has a thicker skin with bumps, whereas mandarin has thin skin that is smooth.


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