Mooncakes and Tea

by Arina on September 24, 2010

in Tea and Food Pairings

Source of both images : Getty images (libres de droits)

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节, zhōngqiūjié) celebration is over, and with it is gone the mooncake (月饼, yuèbing) epidemy that hits China every year around mid-September.  This year, I have had particularly severe symptoms of mooncake fever: I got the molds and tried making mooncakes myself (snow-skin green tea flavored ones with chocolate filling if you want to know).

Just a couple of days ago, wherever you went, you could not escape colorful gift boxes with mooncakes. And now they have vanished. Overnight. But don’t you think those little pastries have been all eaten up. Although everyone gives and receives them as a gift, I know very few people who really like eating them. So if you are living in China, or have Chinese family or colleagues, chances are that you have accumulated a fair amount of mooncake boxes that you have not managed to give to someone else. I swear, I’ve never “recycled” our mooncakes like this, but the guy who conducted our mooncake cooking class said it was quite common. The box you have received and given to someone else with a sweet smile can actually pass through a dozen of different hands only to boomerang back to you : the laws of Karma work even in the mooncake turnover (btw, here I learned you can actually donate the mooncakes to charities. I have not heard of anything like this in Beijing, but apparently in Shanghai it is the case).

Anyway, if you still have some mooncakes at home and pondering a strange idea of eating them, let’s see how a cup of good tea can be of help. The September 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, Chinese edition, gives some matchmaking suggestions for mooncakes and teas.

  • Cantonese-style mooncakes (广式月饼, guǎngshìyuèbing)with fillings quite heavy on sugar and easy on oil will make a good pairing with a cup of Tie Guan Yin (铁观音)or a taiwanese Ginseng Oolong (人参乌龙). A very slightly sweet taste and floral aromas of these teas can actually make an ordinary mooncake a feast.
  • Suzhou-style flaky pastry mooncakes (酥松苏式月饼, sūsōngsūshìyuèbing)are heavy both on oil and on sugar, and a cup of lightly scented jasmine tea (茉莉花茶, mòlìhuāchá) will make them seem a little bit lighter.
  • For Taiwanese-style mooncakes (台式月饼, shìyuèbing) with lighter fillings and fresher taste, any Taiwanese oolong would be a good match, for example, Dong Ding oolong.

Source for both images : Getty Images (libres de droit)

中秋节快乐 ! I wish you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival !

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