Celebrating “The Year of the Horse” with Tea

Another Chinese New Year approaches. The Chinese year 4712, the year of the horse, begins on Jan. 31, 2014. Celebrating with tea is a very natural thing to do. And considering the role of horses in bringing tea to the rest of the world along the Tea Horse Road, this is an especially good year for us tea lovers.
Our Chinese New Year greeting to you
Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese) – both written the same way:
About the Chinese New Year traditions
The Chinese years are named after 12 different animals, a tradition that is said to have started in ancient times when Buddha asked the animals of the world to meet him on Chinese New Year. Only 12 appeared, so Buddha named a year after each one and said that those born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s traits. The year of the horse imparts these traits: cheerful, good with money and their hands, perceptive, talented, and witty.
The Chinese New Year celebration usually lasts 15 days, and involves the following activies:
  • Day 1 – Abstain from meat (ensures long and happy lives)
  • Day 2 – Pray to ancestors and the gods; be extra kind to and feed dogs
  • Days 3 & 4 – Sons-in-laws pay respect to their parents-in-law
  • Day 5 – Avoid visiting families and friends (avoids bringing bad luck)
  • Days 6 thru 10 – Visit relatives and friends, and pray in the temples for good fortune and health
  • Day 7 – Farmers display harvests, make a drink from 7 different vegetables; people eat noodles for longevity and raw fish for success
  • Day 8 – In the Fujian Province, people have a family reunion dinner, and at midnight pray to the God of Heaven (Tian Gong)
  • Day 9 – Make offerings to the Jade Emperor
  • Days 10 thru 12 – Friends and relatives are entertained and served dinner
  • Day 13 – Cleanse the digestion with simple rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum)
  • Day 14 & 15 – Prepare for and celebrate the Lantern Festival
Your celebrations can be much simpler. Start with a bit of red – a color that to the Chinese denotes good luck, good fortune, abundance, and happiness. Red clothing, teawares, table linens, poems on red paper, and giving children “lucky money” in red envelopes are some options. Dragons (symbols of wisdom and beauty) are also important. Serve some of these symbolic foods: oranges and tangerines (abundant happiness), lotus seeds (many male offspring), ginkgo nuts (represent silver ingots), candied melon (growth and good health), lychee nuts (strong family relationships), coconut (togetherness), and peanuts (long life).
Some tea choices that would be appropriate:
2010 Golden Eyebrow Lapsang Souchong
If you prefer something caffeine-free, try a chrysanthemum tisane. The Chinese enjoy this both hot and cold.

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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