Lunar New Year's Tea
Welcome to the Year of the Rat! A special tea ceremony ushers in the new year in the parts of the world that celebrate lunar new year. As tea is such an integral part of Chinese life, it is not surprise that tea rituals are celebrates in honor of the Lunar New Year. Each day of the the 23 days of festivities that span from one lunar year to the next is filled with traditions and celebration. The season signifies the soon-to-be returning Spring and is called the "Spring Festival."
One the first day of the festivities, many guests are greeted with tea, fruit, and other sweets. These are often arranged in groups of eight because eight is a traditionally lucky number. In Chinese, it is pronounced similarly to the Chinese word meaning "wealth," "fortune," or "prosper."
In Southern China, the new year's tea us served with three cups. The first is sweet to represent sweetness for the upcoming year. The second is a smoked bean tea. This tea consists of a blend of tea leaves along with shredded carrots, orange peel, as well as perilla and sesame seeds. This tea with its melange of disparate flavors is meant to signify harmony. The perilla is an Asian vegetable and herb crop as well as a seed. Its flavor is similar to a blend of mint and licorice along with a nuttiness. Ground sesame can be used as a substitute. The third is green tea which is drank after a meal.
Other tea traditions include a multi-generational family gathering in which the youngest generation of the family serves premium tea to the oldest. Then the tea is offered to the second oldest generation. This continues until all members of the family, except the youngest generation. The youngest offers the elders well wishes and the older generation returns the well wishes and offers the youngest a red package. The package is a symbol of good luck and often contains money.
Happy New Year!
1 teaspoon Wild Berry Herbal Tea
1 teaspoon Earl Grey Tea
½ teaspoon Cane Sugar
Steep three to five minutes in freshly boiled water and stir in sugar. Serve with fruit.
Lucky Tea 1 teaspoon Lapsang Souchong Tea
Zest of one Orange
⅛ teaspoon of Ground Sesame Seed or Tahini
Steep three to five minutes in freshly boiled water.
1 teaspoon Jasmine Tea pearls
¼ teaspoon finely chopped dried Lemongrass
Steep one to two minutes in freshly boiled water that has cooled to about 160°F.