With the longer and brighter days come the Qing Ming festival in April. Qing means clear, Ming means bright, They are referring to the season changing to clearer and brighter days at this time of the year. For the farmers in the countryside, it is the time to transplant rice into water filled paddy fields. Back breaking work!
In large parts of China, an important herb is sending out fresh and tender new growth, the Mugwort. We call it "艾 Ai" in Chinese. This is a herb widely used in Chinese medicine, and it is the dry herb burned for acupuncture heat treatments. Its warming property can improve your body's circulation.
In Southern China, people would make sticky rice balls with fresh leaves of mugwort called "Qing Tuan", to enjoy the delicious flavour and great health benefits.
In my April menu, I have add Qing Tuan made with young stingy nettle leaves, which have a similar flavour and health benefit to mugwort. With red bean paste filling, they are a slightly sweet and refreshing start of your banquet. Enjoy!