These decorations (and the others below) are in a local mall celebrating the Lunar New Year in style! There were huge handing lanterns,
and some lion dogs.
A local community center arranged for all sorts of performances from 12 different countries.
Just in the hour or so (okay maybe an hour and a half) I was there, we saw belly dances, a martial arts demonstration,
and some lovely cultural dances and costumes from all age groups:
This picture shows the crowd on two different levels gathered to watch.
Just around the corner from the performances was one of my favorite stores in the mall: Teavana!
(Free tea samples...my favorite!)
(assorted cast iron teapots)
They were serving Monkey picked oolong, which I just so happened to already have due to my wonderful neighbor--who gave me some as a gift last year. I instantly knew I had to set out a Chinese New Year themed tea.
I have a few pieces of Asian themed décor in my home, including this chest I use as a buffet in my kitchen nook, which I thought would be perfect for this tea.
Here is a better look at the painted front of the chest.
And here is the tea!
I set out my Spode Shima three piece set
and my Elizabethan yellow and green pagoda set.
Below is the star of these pictures (of course, especially since he has obviously been migrating around the table), a ceramic Chinese dragon. My mother took ceramics classes while I was growing up and did such a wonderful job since he is gorgeous! She used a painting technique to make his scales stand out. I love all the striking gold accents.
She let me borrow him for the shoot...and now he is on my hall console in the entryway :). Maybe she won't notice for awhile that he is hanging out with me.
Since this is a New Year's celebration there has to be sweets, so I baked some Chinese almond cookies, which were delicious with tea in my Sadler Asian designed teapot.
Now we've come full circle back to the tea--Teavana's Monkey Picked Oolong.
Teavana describes the tea as follows on its website: "As legend has it, ancient Buddhist Monks trained monkeys to gather the youngest leaves from the tip-top of wild tea trees for this special Imperial Reserve blend. The legend lives on, now with the deft hand-plucking of the broken, evenly sized leaves that unfurl to create a light, orchid aroma, and the highest grade of oolong in the world."
I figure this tea has to be lucky for the year of the monkey! The dried leaves are whole and just unroll after steeping.
The steeped tea is a lovely light golden color and tastes vaguely vegetable and maybe even slightly floral, a very good tea with no extra flavors. I had extra that I put in the fridge last night and enjoyed with dinner today so I can definitely say it was good iced too (or maybe that is not a good thing to share as this is a better quality oolong...but it was true!).
Good luck for this Monkey year!*
*from this website, I do not know Mandarin, so I apologize if this saying/translation is wrong
I'm celebrating at the parties below: