Autumn in Hangzhou is associated with many things but it is notably the season for osmanthus and for the Mid-autumn Festival.
Osmanthus, the floral symbol of Hangzhou, has been extensively planted throughout the city and its eye-catching appearance and strong fragrance make it widely appealing to all. Its flowers are also edible and are often served as natural ingredients in Hangzhou’s renowned food and tea.
To add to this tasteful season ‘moon cakes’, edible sweet and savory creations, are the culinary choice in celebrating the Mid-autumn Festival and together with osmanthus they are the best seasonal snacks to satisfy your senses.
Osmanthus Tea first made its appearance in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and is made by mixing dried osmanthus flowers with black or green tea leaves. The fresh scent of the tea leaves together with the sweet aroma of the osmanthus leaves are a perfect match and the tea’s unique flavor can even satisfy the most discerning palate.
Osmanthus tea also has a number of health properties such as improving complexion and reducing the chances of getting diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Osmanthus Rice Cake
Osmanthus Rice Cake is a dessert made out of glutinous rice powder and osmanthus sugar. It is a time-honored cake that is usually square in shape, snow-white in color and is embedded with dried, tiny, brown and golden-colored osmanthus flowers. With a strong scent of osmanthus it tastes sweet and is soft and smooth to touch.
The Mid-autumn Festival is another traditional Chinese festival on a par with the Spring Festival and just like the latter, it is also a time for family members to get together. Things to do during the festival include appreciating the moon and eating moon cakes, both of which are symbols of reunion in Chinese culture.
To cater to every taste there are a wide variety of moon cakes of different flavors available and the most commonly seen ones in China are sweet moon cakes which are stuffed with a variety of dried fruit, pastes and nuts. However in Hangzhou the moon cakes hitting the shelves are of the salty variety, Zhacai (Chinese pickled vegetable) and Pork Moon Cakes which feature a crisp crust of ten layers and are better eaten hot out of the oven.
The sun is shining and the autumn wind is just right. In such good weather, it is a good idea to travel back in time in the Hangzhou Confucius Temple. Here, you can cultivate your mind and soul. In the temple, tablets can be seen everywhere, positioning people instantly in the ancient seat of learning in the capital city of the Southern Song Dynasty. Here, you can stop and appreciate the ancient moss-covered stone tiles, which seems to narrate the thousands-of-year history of the Confucius Temple.