We’re excited to welcome the Year of the Wood Dragon for the 2024 Lunar New Year! The Lunar New Year is an especially magical time, full of storied traditions and larger-than-life tales. We love designing a new Lunar New Year tea tin every year to help celebrate this unique event. And this year, it’s about one of the most magical and revered or feared creatures, the wood dragon! Only slightly different from the 2023 animal, the rabbit.
Last year, we wrote a blog covering the history and unique aspects of Chinese New Year, which we invite you to read again (or for the first time) to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the symbolism of this celebration. In it, we talk about interesting facts like why the color red plays such an important role, what foods are typically part of the festivities, and why cleaning your house is a crucial part of the preparations. It has more to do with getting rid of ill will and making room for good luck than it does with impressing the in-laws.
The flavors of our Lunar New Year tea don’t change from year to year as it’s based on the profile of Nian Gao, a Chinese New Year cake made of rice flour, brown sugar, coconut milk, and other ingredients to create a caramel-like sweetness. So we have also made our 2024 Lunar New Year tea with toasted rice, coconut pieces, sesame seeds, coconut flavor, and caramel flavor as a nod to Nian Gao. We left out the gooeyness but kept all the taste!
As for the 2024 Lunar New Year animal, the dragon – specifically the wood dragon in 2024 – is regarded differently in Chinese culture than in other cultures, where a dragon represents evil and destruction. In Chinese culture, a dragon represents wisdom, authority, good luck, strength, and health. It is believed to shower rain, good luck, and prosperity. The wood dragon combines those beneficial characteristics with nurturing wood elements, a combination expected to bring growth, progress, and abundance.
The dragon is unique because it is the only mythical creature of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac and the most popular. More babies are born in the Year of the Dragon than in any other year as parents plan to have children during that time period. Those born during the Year of the Dragon are thought to be good leaders and very fortunate in life.
In homage to the Year of the Wood Dragon, we wanted to focus on one of our many Chinese teas, Dragon Pearl Jasmine. We’ve done a deep dive before into the fascinating and intricate process used to create jasmine tea, but we thought it would be fun to explore why it has this intriguing moniker in the first place.
There’s a Chinese legend that goes back hundreds of years about how this tea got its name. While the details in versions vary, the main story remains intact. It goes like this:
One winter, a young boy in a small village near Fuzhou, Fujian (Fujian is most closely associated with jasmine tea, and it’s where we source ours) became very ill. He lived with his sister; their parents had died, and they were very poor. No doctor or treatment could help the boy get better.
The sister had been told about a mystical dragon who helped people in need, and she decided to search for the dragon. After walking through the mountains for some time, she found a cave surrounded by jasmine bushes. Inside the cave was the dragon. The girl told the dragon about her brother and asked for help.
In response, the dragon flew into the sky, and a beautiful pearl appeared on his neck. A tiny drop of water fell from the pearl onto the ground, and a tea bush sprouted and started growing instantaneously. The dragon told the girl to take care of the bush no matter what, and it would save her brother’s life. Soon, it began to pour rain, but the girl steadfastly stayed by the bush’s side. Soon, small leaves began to grow on the bush; the girl picked them and dried them next to jasmine flowers. She then made delicate beads, like the one that had been on the neck of the dragon.
When she got home, the sister brewed tea from the balled-up leaves, filling their home with the smell of jasmine. Her brother then drank the tea and miraculously recovered.
This story has been passed down from generation to generation in Chinese families. And while it’s a legend, anyone who has had Dragon Pearl Jasmine Tea knows it to be something of a magical experience as well as a potentially effective herbal remedy for many ailments. If nothing else, it makes an excellent story for your Year of the Wood Dragon party!