The Lunar New Year will be here in 11 days and we’re starting early here. Last week, some friends gave me red envelopes and decorations and one (with my begging and pleading) asked her husband to bring back a Chinese New Year gift box of Blue Diamond almonds.
First up: the red envelopes. These are a mish-mash of commercialized ones (Mickey and Hello Kitty) and ones from previous zodiac years like the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Horse, and the Year of the Snake. Some come from stores in China and some are more traditional. There’s something for everyone!
I first became intrigued by specially-packaged Chinese New Year gift sets in the early 1990s when capitalism was raging through China for the first time in fifty years. Back then, the thing I saw the most was a red boxed set of Nescafe and Carnation instant creamer. Those two things put me off coffee for life, but I liked the box set (usually re-gifted). When a friend posted photos of her husband in China with this Blue Diamond box, I became obsessed. My family loves it!
And this purchase was mine and not a gift. Man Cha Teas in Hong Kong not only sells delicious tea (and they ship overseas!), but their packaging is beyond beautiful. Behold their Chinese New Year mandarin orange pu’er and peanut brittle set:
The round balls are whole, dried tangerine peel filled with pu’er tea. The part of the tangerine where the stem came out is cut out to make a little top that can be easily removed from the tangerine skin container. The tangerine and tea is steeped just like you would any pu’er tea. To make it last a little longer, I’ve poured out some of the tea into a pot of boiling water–without submerging the tangerine skin–but next time I’ll steep the whole thing. Needless to say, the peanut brittle is long gone.
Since the Year of the Dog is my year, watch here for more Chinese New Year happenings. We’re going all out this year.