New Year Tea Traditions
Many countries world-wide have some kind of celebration to welcome in the New Year. Some
countries ring in the new year loudly, while still others usher it in quietly and peacefully.
Often times although, their celebrations may not be close to our calendar dates.
Here are some examples of the holiday traditions from around the world:
Japan holds what is called a Lucky Tea. It is an event with its origins in Kyoto and is called the
“Oubukucha”. Tradition has it that tea is served at the temple. Each guest is also served pickled
Ume (pickled or dried plums or other fruit such as apricots, sometimes referred to as
“salt plums”) and cooked kelp inside their tea cups! It is said that when a guest drinks of the
“Oubukucha” at the new year, this guest will have good health throughout the new year.
Also, another celebration named “Fukucha” is also a tea with very close ties to “Oubukucha”,
some feel they are the same, with the exception that the water used for the tea is freshly drawn
from the well and drunk on new year’s day will spread goodness throughout Japan.
Yet another type of tea celebration takes place in our November, it is called the Robiraki. The
Chado (tea preparation) ispart of the first tea flush of the winter season. It is considered the
Practioner’s New Year. Families and friends will gather and celebrate the changing of the
seasons and to sample the harvest of Matcha tea. Robiraki tea is thick called the Koicha. It
is tea that only a small bit of water will get whisked with the Matcha powder. The sweet leaf
tea is used to make Koicha. This celebration reminds me of Thanksgiving. They are thankful
for the seasons change for their harvest.
Now on to China, the traditional Chinese celebration usually takes place on February 18th on our
calendar. Unlike the peaceful quiet of a Japan temple, China has vibrant red in all of its
decorations, and an open house of sorts, that serves traditional foods as well as traditional teas.
It is called “spring festival”, families come together the 1st day of the 1st Lunar calendar.
The “spring festival” is thought to date all the way back to the Shang Dynasty. It is a national
holiday and all business are closed for a period of seven days! During this time displays of red
things are everywhere, in banners and on envelopes and napkins etc. The red signifies good
luck wishes, harmony, prosperity, and peace. The consume well prepared foods and drink
a lot of green tea. The Chinese believe that the best tea is not to be drunk on festival days
because they feel the food interferes with the tea’s actual taste. They will opt for simple
green teas and oolongs. The Chinese also will use a lot of fireworks during the days of the
festival because they believe that the noise scares away evil spirits and misfortune.
Coming closer to the United States, let’s make a stop in the United Kingdom/England, shall
we? This is still where tea is an everyday part of life there. So naturally, when speaking of tea
of course the is the New Year’s Day Festival Afternoon Tea. Most of the “swank” hotels and tea
rooms will host a “fancy” menu, with the luxe items of Foie gras of Duck or grilled scallops
for example. and tea and fancy Yule Logs desserts. Afternoon teas will still feature finger
sandwiches, cakes, scone & cream, jams, Christmas cookies and mince meat pies. Some will
feature unlimited teas, chocolate sponge cakes and clotted creams. Larger afternoon teas will
feature the turkey , stuffing, brown bread crisps, and things like smoked salmon and scrambled
eggs on toast.
An old superstition in parts of the U.K. and Scotland is called The First Footing! The first person
to enter the home on New Year’s Day will bring all the luck for the coming New Year! Here
dark haired people are thought to be the luckiest!
The United States of course ushers the New Year in with entertainment, dancing, fireworks, and
the midnight kiss! The kiss had humbled beginnings, a simple kiss to wash away evil spirits,
that loneliness would be banished and new beginnings launched. The use of paper horns and
blowouts had the same meanings as well. Some southern United States customs continue until
this day, is the use of making a recipe called Hoppin’ John. They bake black eyed beans into
this recipe to signify good luck and prosperity!
Whatever your traditions may be if you resolve that on January 1st to strive for a healthier life-
style, please include tea into that routine. Tea boosts your immune system, gives you energy,
boosts the metabolism!
Out with the old and in with the new: singing Auld Lang Syne!
Here’s to you, and here’s to tea, have a great new year reaching the goals you wish to obtain!
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