Temperatures throughout China differ dramatically in Winter. In most places on the mainland people wear layers and layers of clothes and love to gift apples at Christmas (more info below!).
Did you know? Heating in China is divided geographically. The north gets central heating from November to March but the south doesn’t. When temperatures drop below freezing in the south people rely on small plug-in heaters. It’s also common for people to meet around an outside fire to stay warm and socialise.
By far our favorite tea featured in the 2020 boxes! 小青柑茶 Xiao Qing Gan Tea [little green tangerine] is incredibly fragrant. It’s made by taking a hollowed out, dried tangerine skin and pressing the famous Yunnan Pu Er leaves inside. You can brew it multiple times a day but don’t reuse it the next day – the flavor won’t be as good.
To make the tea last longer than one sitting, take a pinch of tea leaves and brew in the re-usable tea bag. That does mean you lose the citrus flavor of the tangerine though.
It should be brewed just under boiling temperature (about 200f) for 1-2minutes. Pu er can be brewed in the same way as green teas for the best taste.
For more detail on how to brew different types of Chinese tea, see our simple guide:
《雪地里的小画家》Little Artists in the Snow
The sweet poem featured on this theme’s cultural card is from Chinese first grade textbooks.
You can hear it being read in Chinese here:
Christmas ‘Peace’ Apples.
Over the last decade, China has started to celebrate more ‘western’ festivals, including Christmas. Some of the festivities – such as santa hats – are traditionally associated with Christmas worldwide. But other Chinese Christmas customs are distinctly Chinese.
Most obviously is the giving of ‘Peace Apples’ to friends and family on Christmas Eve. This tradition is rooted in a homophone as the Mandarin for Christmas Eve is Ping An Ye (平安夜, literally evening of peace), which sounds like the Chinese word for ‘apple’ – pingguo (苹果).
Often, the apples are grown with a stencil over, causing the word ‘peace’ to appear as a discolouration on the apple. Other times, the word ‘peace’ is painted on with food colouring or edible ink. The designs range from simple to highly elaborate.
Your box includes a packet of natural food coloring, a stencil with the Chinese character for peace and a paintbrush so you can make your own Chinese peace apples.
Simply (a) mix the food coloring powder with a lemon extract to create a fairly thick consistency to stop the lettering from running [no more than 1teaspoon], (b) tape the stencil over an apple, (c) paint the coloring onto the stencil and (d) carefully remove the stencil. If your apple is fairly dark like ours was you, might need to create stronger color which you can do by adding any gel or liquid food coloring.
Chinese Winter Crafts
These simple crafts are a sweet representation of winter in China. They can also make a fun addition to your holiday decorations!
Watch the videos for an idea of how to put the crafts together.