Monday, February 11, 2013

A Chinese New Year Tea

According to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, yesterday, January 10th, was China's biggest traditional holiday - Chinese New Year [also known as Spring Festival].   The photo below was taken in San Francisco's Chinatown, the oldest and largest population of Chinese outside of China.

[Photos Courtesy of]

Each new year is represented by one of the twelve creatures of the Chinese zodiac.  2013 is the "Year of the Snake."  Like the Western zodiac signs, the animals of Chinese astrology are thought by many to determine personality traits and events in the year they rule.  If you believe in astrology, and were born in 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, or 2001 this is a year of good fortune for you!  You will personally or professionally shine and overcome setbacks experienced in 2012.

Unlike many large cities, Detroit has no Chinatown, so prior to Saturday [February 9th],  I had never attended a Chinese New Year celebration.  My girlfriend and I had the privilege of attending a Chinese New Year's tea in the upscale Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield, in   the atrium of Henry Ford Hospital.  Attending a tea in a hospital setting was also a first for me!   

China is the birthplace of tea, and early on tea was imbibed as a medicinal beverage, so it seemed very fitting to be celebrating the Chinese New Year with tea, in a medical facility.  

Tea has long been an important aspect of Chinese culture. It is included in their seven basic daily necessities, and medical science still boasts of the healthful benefits of tea around the world.

Below is the main entrance to Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.  It's not a run-of-the-mill hospital, rather it's very progressive and upscale.

This is the entrance.  You feel like you've entered a quaint village instead of a hospital.

A balcony view of the atrium tea setting.

Great Lakes Tea & Spice Kiosk hosted the Chinese tea luncheon.  Its parent company is located in Glen Arbor, Michigan.  Don't you wish every hospital had a tea kiosk that provided freshly brewed loose-leaf tea to visitors and patients?

I've been on their mailing for quite awhile, but this was the first tea I was able to attend [it definitely won't be the last, however].   Below are the owners of the kiosk, Charlie & Sally Sarin. The photo is courtesy of their website  A personal chef previously, Sally prepared the food for the tea, and served it along with her husband and another employee.  There were nine attendees.

The tea began at 1:00 p.m. and was $32.00 per person.  Below was my place setting.  In Chinese culture, the color red is said to be as lucky as the number 8 - hence the red tablecloths and napkins.  Oranges, tangerines and mandarins are passed out freely during Chinese New Year for luck, good fortune and prosperity.

To begin, we had a choice of two teas and one herbal.  The white teapot in the forefront contained a black Yunnan tea.  It was my choice throughout most of the tea.  It was perfectly brewed and delicious.  The black Tetsubin teapot offered Jasmine Pearls which I switched to for dessert.  The smaller white teapot in the back contained a botanical buckwheat tea.

After Mr. Sarin served our tea, Sally brought out a dish of Ginger Shallot Soy Dipping Sauce, and a dish of Chinese Hot Mustard to accompany our won tons later in the tea.

The first course was Green Jade Soup - made with ginger, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and other veggies.   It was superb on a cold, wintry day!  As I type this post and view the photos of the delicious food, I find myself wishing I was back at the hospital enjoying the tea all over again!

Next came our Crispy Shrimp Won Tons and Buddah's Delight Dumplings [veggie won tons].
It's rare to be asked if you'd like seconds, but Sally did with the won tons and dessert cookies. 

After the won tons came Tea Smoked Salmon, Mandarin Fried Rice, and Curried Shrimp Noodles.

We were told noodles symbolize long life, and it is considered very unlucky to cut the strands when eating them.

A Lychee Granita was served as a palate cleanser before our dessert.

Lastly, dessert was an Almond Cookie, a Five Spice Shortbread Cookie, and Ginger Tapioca Brulee.   Delicious!

I concluded I've been missing out on a very special celebration, and I'm looking forward to more of them.  The Sarins have set the bar very high for future Chinese New Year's teas, and special thanks to them for a wonderful afternoon!

 Sandy and me.

The Chinatown photo below was taken in Victoria, British Columbia  when I was there in 2008.


  1. What fun! Yes, I wish all hospitals had a tea kiosk. How nice to find a new place for tea!

  2. What a fun and interesting afternoon with Sandy!

  3. Wonderful! We were in Victoria, BC for the tea festival and had a dim sum lunch on Sunday in honor of the new year...and I forgot to bring my camera! Ah glad you did!

  4. Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos and descriptions of your Chinese New Year tea.
    Everything looks delicious. The tea smoked salmon especially intrigued me. What wonderful combinations of flavors in the dishes served.
    If I lived near, it would be a must do every year for me.

  5. Much as I love Chinese food, I would have absolutely adored this tea! How fun! And goodness, I can't quite believe that is a HOSPITAL I am seeing in your photos. Wow!

  6. I must say this tea looks wonderful! I am so glad you were able to take tea at the hospital. What a treat! Thanks for sharing.

  7. This story is wonderful- from the Tea Kiosk at the hospital to the yummy sounding menu! Such distinct flavors for each course. The bar is indeed set high! thanks for sharing

  8. What a wonderful tea... the perfect way to celebrate the Chinese New Year! This happens to be 'my year'...I'm feeling lucky already!

  9. Happy Chinese New Year! Your dinner looks delicious ... especially the tea!


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