Happy Chinese Lunar New Year

The animal for the lunar new year will be the pig.

The animal for the lunar new year will be the pig.

It’s Chinese New Year on Tuesday 5th February!  

This date marks the beginning of a lunar new year and is traditionally a time celebrated with friends and family.  Food is central to many Chinese festivities and Chinese New Year is no different!  Many foods that are traditionally eaten have symbolic meanings so not only are they delicious, but they also bring sentiment to the table too.  For example, long noodles are eaten - without being trimmed! - and symbolise longevity.  My favourite though has got to be fish which is typically eaten at the family New Year dinner and is usually steamed intact with head and tail to symbolise a good start and finish to the new year!     

If you have an appointment booked in over the new year period, you’ll receive a little goody bag with a selection of treats.  Below is a list of some of the items on offer and some additional information or instructions for you to browse through if you’d like to find out more:

Mint tea bags
Mint is a cooling herb in Chinese medicine and we use this in prescriptions to help with ‘hot’ symptoms, such as sweating, hot flushes, migraines or inflammatory arthritic aches and pains.  If you are somebody who suffers with cold hands and feet, drinking mint tea is fine every so often, but we wouldn’t recommend having this daily as your regular cuppa!   

Green rooibois and manuka honey tea
You may have had the regular rooibois tea but have you tried green rooibois?  It’s naturally caffeine-free and is unfermented, whilst the red rooibois tea is made from fermented tea leaves.  Green rooibois is touted to have higher anti-oxidant levels for this reason and has a slightly bitter flavour, which is why it goes so well with the manuka honey it’s combined with! 

Taiwanese oolong high mountain tea pearls
This is my absolute favourite oolong tea!  High mountain tea (or gaoshan cha) has a beautifully clear and deep earthy and slightly bitter flavour - perfect for a pick-me-up in the mornings!  It does have caffeine so just be careful about drinking it too late in the day if you’re susceptible to the effects of caffeine.  I’ve provided loose leaf pearls in the tea sachets - use half a teaspoon for a weak tea, and a full teaspoon for a stronger one.  If possible, rinse with hot water first and then add hot water, but not boiling water, and steep for 5 minutes.  This tea is best brewed at around 80-85 degrees - to reach this temperature without bringing out a thermometer everytime, simply let freshly boiled water stand for a few minutes to cool down and the temperature will be about right.  You can re-use the tea leaves for the remainder of the day but avoid using overnight tea leaves.  

M&S Brown rice and green tea teabag
Toasted brown rice and green tea is a very popular green tea in Japan, also called genmai cha, and is another of my favourite teas!  The rice brings a more grain-y flavour to it which I think supplements the bitterness of the green tea perfectly and is a beautiful tea to have with a light lunch.  As with the Taiwanese high mountain tea, steep for around 5 minutes and with hot water around 80-85 degrees (you can also simply boil the water in the kettle and leave to stand for a few minutes to cool down). 

I bought this one in a tea temple from M&S so that if you like this one and prefer it in a tea temple instead of loose leaf, you can re-purchase easily without having to visit an Oriental supermarket.

Goji berries
Goji berries, also known as Gou Qi Zi, are a herb that herbalists use widely in Chinese medicine to help boost the body’s Yin levels.  It can be added to soups and stews, or made into a tea by simply adding hot water to it and allowing it to steep for a few minutes.  Cooking it slightly in these ways will make bring out the sweetness to them. You can also snack on this raw with other dried fruit and nuts, or added to home-made protein-balls and has a slightly bitter-sweet taste to it when eaten in this way. 

Chinese pearl barley

Chinese pearl barley (Yi Yi Ren) is gluten-free and is another herb widely used in Chinese medicine.  This herb helps with symptoms like bloating, water retention and painful urination due to water infections and is a great one to add to soups, broths, stews and casseroles just to give a little big of a bite. If you’re interested in making a simple but tasty pearl barley drink you can check out this recipe.

Besides these, I hope you’ve enjoyed the other goodies -  may the new year of the Pig bring you and your family health and happiness!

This year’s new year goodie bag.

This year’s new year goodie bag.