The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. It usually falls somewhere in late September or early October. For 2017, today is the big day! Many activities are enjoyed including sharing a family meal, gazing at the full moon, lighting lanterns, and eating a special type of pastry called mooncakes. The roots of this festival actually go back over 3,000 years. In the past, emperors worshipped the moon in order to ensure a good harvest. Although most people no longer depend on the agricultural harvest for their livelihoods, the tradition continues to this day.
When Pearl River Mart reached out to me about reviewing the Mid-Autumn Festival edition of their Friendship Box, I jumped at the chance. I was even more excited when I saw that they collaborated with my friends at Silver Needle Tea Co. Pearl River Mart was a fixture in SoHo for many years and I was heartbroken when they closed their shop. They had a fantastic selection of teas, teaware, and other goodies. The good news is that they’ll be reopening at Chelsea Market next year.
The Friendship Box included the following:
- two red paper lanterns
- two blue and white porcelain teacups
- two mooncakes, one filled with taro and one filled with green tea
- Silver Needle Tea Co. Jasmine Green Tea
Tea is best when shared and this box definitely helps to facilitate that. It’s a tea party in a box! I’ve been working a ton lately (as evidenced by my recent posting inconsistencies, sorry about that folks!) so my personal Mid-Autumn celebration took place at around midnight last night. My fiance was there to provide company but he abstained from the tea and mooncakes since they aren’t his thing. Oh well, more for me. 😉
The mooncakes were dense and very sweet but delicious. Their filling reminded me a bit of mochi in both the consistency and the level of sweetness. Jasmine green tea was definitely the perfect accompaniment. The mild astringency helped to cut the heaviness of the traditional treats while the floral notes echoed the sweetness of the filling. Mooncakes tend to sit very heavily on my stomach so I will often split them up into multiple servings.
I most often drink pure, unflavored teas but a well-scented jasmine green tea can be a very wonderful thing. The info card that was included in the box explained that this tea is harvested once a year, in late spring, and immediately roasted with fresh jasmine flowers. There was some astringency, as is expected of a green tea, but overall the taste was very delicate and mild. It had just a kiss of jasmine so it wasn’t overwhelming or perfumy at all.
The red paper lanterns were a fun and festive touch to my celebration. I still need to find a light to go inside but a mini flashlight will do the job for now. The best part is that they fold flat so that I can tuck them away to use again for next year! I really can’t wait for Pearl River Mart’s NYC shop to reopen as I remember they carried quite an extensive collection of lanterns in a rainbow of colors.
As far as subscription boxes go, I thought this one was unique and interesting. Each bi-monthly box is guest curated and contains a unique assortment of Asian goodies. That’s not bad for $30-$35 a month! I’m looking forward to seeing what other themes they come up with as well as visiting the new Pearl River Mart location once it opens.
How are you celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival this year? Is there tea involved? Let me know about it in the comments!