WELCOMING THE YEAR OF THE GOLDEN OX

Lunar New Year, or more commonly known as Chinese New Year, marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and is China’s most predominant holiday, a time which celebrates values like unity and family ties. It starts between 21 January and 20 February, on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This year stamps the year of the Gold Ox. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal, because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as hardworking and honesty are being ascribed to him. Rarely losing their temper, Oxen think logically and make great leaders. No wonder that Barack Obama with his “Yes we can” spirit that was an inspiration for the young generation around the globe is a Gold Ox. And so was film pioneer Walt Disney who’s famous motto “If you can dream it, you can make it.” is more contemporary than ever. This bears a lot of hope for the new year. In 2021 we will drive away evil spirits and usher in a beautiful year with the help of the divine power of the ox which represents good harvests and good luck. 

Tea is as important to the rich Chinese culture as the Zodiac. According to legend, it was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 bc, when a leaf from a nearby shrub fell into the water which the emperor was boiling. Since then, Tea is deeply woven into the history and culture of China. The beverage is considered one of the seven essences of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar. No wonder the scientific name for the tea plant is Camellia sinensis (Sinensis = chinensis).  The history of Chinese tea is a long and gradual story of refinement. Generations of growers and producers have perfected not only the Chinese way of manufacturing tea but also preparation and enjoyment, and its many unique regional variations.

Today not only does China have the biggest tea production in the world, it also produces all 6 types of tea commercially. These range from white, green and yellow, to oolong and all the way to black and dark tea. Every region has their own variety. Simply stating that you are drinking Chinese tea, does not honour the amount of work, effort and thought put into each and every cup of this cherished brew. Only in China there are over 1000 varieties of green teas. In each of these teas you will find unique flavours and aromas, which all root in the celebration of creativity and craftsmanship when produced. This celebration continues when these fine cups of tea are enjoyed by the people. 

Tea culture in China varies from that in Western countries like Germany or Britain and other East and Southeast Asian countries like Korea, Vietnam, Japan in situations or occasions when it is consumed. Tea is devoured regularly, both on casual and formal occasions.  In addition to being an admired beverage, it is used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in Chinese cuisine.

Guests in China are always served tea as a sign of appreciation. The younger generation offers tea to the older generation to show their respect. Tea also plays an important role in many customs as a symbolic gift, especially in wedding and engagement customs, or it even serves as a sign of apology. We can also find small cups of tea around the altars of temples, as a tribute to their gods.

The different ways of brewing Chinese tea depend on the formality of the occasion and the kind of tea being brewed. The best way to enjoy tea the Chinese way is to prepare it Gong Fu style, but what does Gong Fu style refer to? A Gong fu tea set, allows for  a full experience of your tea in all ways possible, delighting the senses by drinking the brew from small vessels and small cups, where less water and more tea is used, making every sip count, over hours and hours of multiple infusions. When the water gets poured into the pot, the lively flavours and aromas set free and flourish into a desired brew. Gongfu cha is as much about the enjoyment of brewing tea as it is about the actual drinking of the tea. This style is commonly found in all households throughout China. You can prepare the tea with either a small clay teapot or the particular lidded bowl called gaiwan. These social tea ceremonies celebrate companionship and sense of belonging. 

A Chinese proverb states that one life is not enough to learn the names of all the teas in China. So why not start today and explore the world of Chinese teas by looking at our carefully curated selection. Of course you will also find the accompanying accessories that make your Chinese tea experience bona fide.

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