25 Days of Tea: Day 21 (Mao Jian)

img_lg_maojianWe made it!

Today at 5:44am EST, we welcome the Winter Solstice: the shortest day of the year and the day that marks the “turning of the Sun.” From tomorrow onward, the days will now get longer as we head into Spring. The first day of Winter is a not a gloomy day, but a celebration of the end of darkness, the dawn of light and the unending cycle of nature. There are so many traditions and rituals surrounding the Winter Solstice, from Pagan rituals to Norse, but the one I wanted to focus on this year was that of  Dōngzhì (冬至). This Chinese Winter Festival that celebrates the shortest day of the year began during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) and really peaked during the Tang and Song dynasties (618 – 1279). Families came together (and still do) on this most auspicious day to celebrate with a meal made of filling, hearty foods that inspire hope for the warmer days of Spring.

Tang Yuan rice balls

The traditional meal is a  rice dish called  Tang Yuanglutinous rice balls filled with sweet sesame or red bean paste cooked in a ginger broth – an auspicious symbolize of family togetherness and reunion.

What could be better then celebrating the end of darkness by spending time with family and friends eating dumplings and sipping endless cups of tea. And not just any tea, but another one of China’s Ten Famous teas: Mao Jianrevered for its pleasant aroma and refreshing, easy taste. Legend has it that that nine fairies from heaven brought this tea down to earth for humans. It is said that, when you drink this tea, you will see the images of those nine fairies dancing in the steam. The name Mao Jian is broken into two parts to reflect Yin/Yang or “Xinyang” – the words “Mao” and “Jian” refers to the shape of the tea. Mao (hairy) and Jian (straight and pointy/sharp).

Whatever ritual or celebration you participate in today, or even if you do nothing at all, try to remember the bigger message: There is an end to darkness, and what follows is always light. Tomorrow morning when you wake to seconds more of that light, give thanks to nature for providing us with everything we need and one of the most delightful plants on earth: the tea bush! Here are some notes on our Mao Jian:

• Overview:   One of China’s 10 Famous Teas
• Dry Leaf:    Emerald green, sharp and pointy with tiny hairs
• Liquor (liquid):   Gorgeous green, clear and sparkling
• Aroma:   Cucumber, fresh, sweet
• Flavor notes:    Easy on the palate. A green tea for every day. Slight sweetness on the finish after notes of clean crisp cucumber find its way out front.
• Brewing recommendation:     170˚F  for 2-3 minutes.
• Caffeine: Yes

If you are interested in giving todays pick a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS21 at checkout to get 25% of Mao Jian– today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf




25 Days of Tea: Day 21 (Mao Jian)