Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's luck: From greens to green tea

We've stocked the black-eyed peas and mustard greens for our New Year's Day repast. We're not bad-off like many others we know, some still struggling after layoffs long ago, but like anyone we're not shying from good luck rituals and talismans as this new year rolls in. The black-eyed peas and greens tradition goes back to the Civil War — as Union troops ravaged the South, they left behind black-eyed peas and greens for the animals, but these are nutritious eats that allowed many Southerners to survive the winter. Mom always told me, too, that the beans represent coins and the greens are greenbacks. So we're chowing down.

Make tea part of your new year festivities, too. In Japan, a tradition exists to serve Big Happy Tea! It's just basic green tea or matcha, served on New Year's Day as a means of taking on good luck. According to a thoroughly informative book I acquired in London this year, Chado: The Way of Tea, A Japanese Tea Master's Almanac, the tradition of new year's tea in Japan goes back to Emperor Murakami (926-967), who became ill, drank tea around this time of year at the temple for the Goddess of Mercy, and recovered. As the tale spread, commoners began drinking tea on New Year's Day, hoping to acquire some of the same timely luck for the next calendar. Back then, they made the tea with water drawn precisely at 4 p.m. and poured the brew (made by the youngest member of the family) over pickled plums. After that, veggie soup with rice cakes.

Oh, and don't forget to sprinkle flakes of real gold on the tea.

(p.s. Here's my post from last January about a local Japanese new-year tea demo.)

No comments:

Post a Comment