IMHO, the best place to be in as we usher in the Lunar New Year is in Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. I personally love popping in to get my feng shui done (I’m not an avid devotee, but I really like the science behind the astrology, and their traditions).
I am also down for some of the best dimsum in town. 😉
In the interest of keeping this beverage-centered, however… What are the best Chinese drinks to have?
I think that the way Chinese view tea is a beautiful, daily expression of their history. In our travels to China, I’ve seen them lug around thermoses full of piping hot tea, and even use it to clean their utensils before eating (my godmother who has settled down in Hong Kong does this whenever we eat in one of their hardcore local “you need to know Cantonese to order” restaurants). It is said that tea is part of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar.
Legend has it that the Chinese discovered tea through Emperor Shennong in 2737BC. They say that the discovery happened when a leaf accidentally landed into a pot of water he was boiling, and thus, the first infusion happened.
Today, some of the traditional tea practices still remain. Most of them find origins in expressing respect for elders. I am fascinated by the use of brown teapots called Gongfu Cha (and the rituals behind using it) ever since seeing it in one of BBC’s Sherlock series.
Also called Baijiu, this drink has been around for over 5,000 years. It makes use of fungus then uses grains for distillation. It is normally served either warm or at room temperature, but as a fair warning, most Pinoys I know couldn’t stand the strong smell the jars emanate.
My personal favorite way to celebrate Lunar New Year is with Chinese food and a bubbly.
This year, we admittedly weren’t able to prepare for a proper celebration because we were traveling from Vigan (more in a succeeding entry).
After arriving home really late, we decided to hit our local Chinese restaurant North Park, get some Chow Mien, buy some pilsner-style lager Tsing Tao (to keep with the theme and have an excellent pair with Chinese food), and just chill out after a long drive.
Beer is still bubbly, right? 😉
How did you spend your Chinese New Year?
See you tomorrow for Part 2: Love. Cheers!