February 10, 2024: Marks the start of the Lunar New Year, and this year is the Year of the Wood Dragon! This auspicious occasion is believed to bring a wave of transformative energy and opportunity, inspiring bold actions and the pursuit of ambitious goals. As we welcome this joyous festival, it's fascinating to explore the Chinese customs surrounding tea, an integral part of Lunar New Year celebrations in many areas of China.
During the Spring Festival, another name for the Lunar New Year, various regions in China embrace unique and cherished tea customs. Let's take a look at three wonderful traditions that are worth highlighting:
1. Drinking Spring Tea in Jiangnan:
In the Jiangnan area, a delightful custom takes place where people gather to drink spring tea during the Spring Festival. As winter gives way to spring, this act symbolizes bidding farewell to the old year and embracing new beginnings. The celebration commences on the first day of the Lunar New Year when close friends, known as tea friends, take turns hosting tea gatherings. On the day the host invites their tea friends, messengers are sent around, extending invitations door-to-door, a ceremony known as "calling for tea." Spring tea typically consists of exquisite green tea complemented by an array of refreshments. Each pot of tea is garnished with several orange petals, symbolizing prosperity in the coming year.
2. Drinking Tea and Praying in Fu'an, Fujian:
In Fu'an, a city with a rich tea-growing history in Fujian province, an intriguing tradition prevails. The locals believe that kicking off the New Year with three cups of tea will ensure a smooth year ahead, warding off potential troubles. This practice underscores the symbolic importance of tea as a means of bestowing blessings and guaranteeing peace.
3. "Tea Ingredients" of Hakkas in Western Fujian and Eastern Guangdong:
In the Hakka areas of western Fujian and eastern Guangdong, a charming custom known as "giving tea ingredients" is practiced when bidding farewell to the old year or in the first month of the Lunar New Year. These "tea ingredients" are the accompanying treats designed to enhance one's tea experience. They include candied ginger slices, orange cakes, winter melon strips, tangerine peels, orchid roots, and other delectable refreshments. These delightful items are wrapped in rough paper and adorned with a small piece of red paper, symbolizing good fortune in the New Year. The act of "giving tea ingredients" encapsulates joy and cheerfulness during this festive period.
As we embrace the Year of the Wood Dragon, it's important to remember the significance of customs and traditions. The Spring Festival offers a unique opportunity to connect with Chinese culture and traditions surrounding tea.
恭喜发财 (gōngxǐ fācái). Wishing you prosperity and good fortune!
Resource: There are many kinds of tea drinking customs across the country during the Spring Festival. (2018) Retrieved from https://www.puercn.com/puerchawh/pecfs/128949.html