San Jose’s Asian New Year celebrations call for tea!

Small Chinese teapot. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Jose’s large Asian community enthusiastically celebrates the lunar New Year with nighttime firecracker explosions, dance, music, and of course, traditional foods and tea with family. Bring your tea with you by filling up your favorite travel mug with tea instead of coffee, or go tea tasting first.  Here are some Bay Area Asian New Year celebrations that you can attend:

Jan. 21-22: Vietnamese Tet Festival.  San Jose’s 30th Tet Festival will take place at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds with a wide variety of activities including lion dances, crafts, fashion shows and photography, as well as food booths. Tickets are $12 per adult or $8 per child, and parking is $10.

Jan. 22: Lion Dance Performance: Enjoy a live performance by the Far East Dragon Lion Dancers in celebration of the new year in the Seasons Marketplace at Landess shopping center in Milpitas. The performance is free and begins at 1 p.m.

Jan. 22: Free Street Fair in Foster City: The Foster City Parks and Recreation Department will transform the William E. Walker Recreation Center into a traditional Chinese street fair with musical, acrobatic and lion dance performances, a tea ceremony, martial arts, calligraphy, brush painting, storytelling, and Chinese-opera-style face painting from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 12 Chinese zodiac animal characters will be there to greet children.

Jan. 28: Penmanship Contest in Milpitas: Milpitas Community Chinese School, which usually holds Saturday classes, will have no classes Jan. 28 in order to host a penmanship contest, during which students compete in calligraphy as part of the school’s Chinese New Year celebration.

Jan. 28-29: Crafts and Shows at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose: Children can watch cultural performances and receive hands-on lessons on traditional Chinese crafts for the weekend, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Feb. 4: Spring Festival Silicon Valley: The Chinese Performing Arts of America will present a musical, “Legend of the Dragon,” as well as dances, magic and martial arts at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $38, $50 and $100 with a 40 percent discount for seniors and children. Call 408-973-8276 for tickets.

Feb. 4: Free Museum Day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. , at the San Jose Museum of Art, 110 S Market St., San Jose. Featuring Traditional Lion Dance by Rising Phoenix Lion Dance Association, Dance performance by Sukyung Choi’s Korean Dance Academy, Cultural crafts, hands-on activities, family fun, and more!

Feb. 11: San Francisco Parade: Now sponsored by Southwest Airlines, the San Francisco tradition that started right after the Gold Rush will bring out over 100 units this year, including a 250-foot golden dragon carried by a team of over 100 men and women throughout the streets of San Francisco. The parade, starting at 6 p.m., will be broadcast on KTVU Fox 2 and KTSF Channel 26.

January 2012 to February 2013 is the year of the Dragon, and those who follow the Zodiac consider Dragon years to be the luckiest.  Whether you forsee the same luck for San Jose that they do, you can still take the opportunity to enjoy some traditional Asian treats, like Tea Marbled Eggs, dim sum dishes, and plenty of tea.  What with the recent week of rain and wind, we could all use the warmth and hydration contained in multiple pots of hot tea!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
“Celebrate Chinese New Year with dim sum and tea!”
Chinese Lunar New Year Calendar and Zodiac Animals
Patch Guide to Lunar New Year Celebrations
Chinese Marbled Tea Egg recipe
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“Review: Vital Tea Leaf Angel green tea and Siberian Rose tisane”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown”
“Chinese oolong tea in San Jose”
“Tea bricks: what are they and should they be used?”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“Bubble tea: one of San Jose’s most popular drinks”


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