Chinese New Year Tea Customs – Gold Ingots Tea, Sugar Tea, Four Ingredients Soup…

Wenzhuo Liu

The Chinese Lunar New Year (Spring Festival) is coming again. What are the interesting New Year tea customs around China? In the south of the Yangtze River, people will entertain guests with Gold Ingots Tea during the Spring Festival, implying the blessing of wealth. The new year tea custom in Zhejiang Province is from the first day to the third day of the first month, and a bowl of Four Ingredients Soup is offered to the guests. Hunan Province serves brown sugar tea first, and then salty tea Six Ingredients Tea, cup after cup until the guests are full. Fujian Province has a tradition of drinking tea in the New Year as a blessing activity during the Spring Festival. Drink a bowl of Sugar Tea, people can have peace, happiness and good luck.

Although there are different drinking methods, there is a custom of drinking Gold Ingots tea in the south of the Yangtze River area. When guests visit during the Spring Festival, the host presents the tea, two green Chinese olive or calamondin orange are placed in the tea bowls. The green olives are pointed at both ends and shaped like Gold Ingots, so the tea made with olives is called Gold Ingots Tea. Using green olives to brew tea to entertain guests not only symbolizes the host’s hospitality, but also helps digestion, so it is widely spread among people. Traditionally, the tea bowls of Ingots Tea will also be pasted with a red paper cut out of ingots, which roughly means “attracting wealth”. Tea houses in some areas would also open as usual on the first day of the New Year. According to local customs, on the first day of the New Year, tea guests will become regular guests of the tea house if they choose olive tea from the tea house.

There is another special custom of drinking New Year’s tea in Zhejiang Province, which is limited to the first day of the first month to the third day. It is called Four Ingredients Soup. Generally, a few red Chinese dates and lotus seeds are put into a porcelain bowl and then poured into sugar soup. The taste is sweet and delicious, expressing the host’s wishes to the guests and wishing them all sweet and beautiful in the new year.

Hunan people are hospitable. During the Spring Festival, visit relatives and friends in Hunan Province. The host would be very warm and serve a bowl of brown sugar tea first, which is very sweet. After drinking, a bowl of ginger salt and bean tea is served, cup after cup until the guests are full. Because there are six ingredients in tea, such as ginger, salt, soybeans, sesame, tea and water, which is also called Six Ingredients Tea. This kind of salty tea is fragrant and delicious, it can be eaten while drinking, and very chewy.

Fujian’s Spring Festival tea custom is that after drinking three cups of tea at the beginning of the new year, everything will go well throughout the year. There will be no lawsuits and diseases. Tea has the meaning and function of blessing and praying for good luck. The traditional Sugar Tea is brewed with ice sugar, red Chinese dates, sugared winter melon, peanut kernels and a little tea. Each cup of tea will be equipped with a silver spoon to stir the tea soup. When serving tea, the host must also be serious and solemn, holding the cup with both hands to show respect.


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