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The Three Seasons of Summer 三伏 / Sān Fú

Tea Pairing During San Fu

 

In China there are three seasons known as 三伏 (sān fú) which occur during the summertime. According to Ancient Chinese texts, sān fú is the hottest period of the year and is divided between its beginning 初伏 (Chu Fu), its middle 中伏 (Zhong Fu), and its end 末伏 (Mo Fu).

三伏 sān fú was a traditional festival during the Qin and Han Dynasties and played an important role in the society of the Tang Dynasty. Ancient Chinese believed drinking certain teas during each of these 3 periods would help eliminate miasmas and diseases.

tea sage

These periods have approximate dates each year since they follow the lunar calendar. This year (2023), the 三伏 sān fú calendar is the following:

  • 初伏chūfú – first phase 11- 20 July
  • 中伏zhōngfú – middle phase 21 Jul – 9 Aug
  • 末伏 mòfú – last phase 10 – 19 Aug

 

初伏 chūfú – The First Period of Heat

初伏 generally occurs from early to mid-July. As the sun shines brightly and temperatures rise, it’s essential to stay cool and refreshed. For this season, reach for a refreshing cup of Green Tea! Green teas like Longjing (Dragon Well) or Biluochun are perfect choices. Their light, grassy flavors and delicate aromas are a wonderful way to beat the heat and restore balance. Sip on these teas throughout 初伏 to keep yourself hydrated and rejuvenated.

中伏 zhōngfú – Midsummer Heat

中伏 usually falls in late July to early August, continuing the heat of summer. During this time, Oolong Teas come to the forefront. These semi-oxidized teas strike a splendid balance between the freshness of Green Tea and the depth of Red Tea. Consider enjoying the floral and fruity notes of Tie Guan Yin (Iron goddess of Mercy) or the roasted complexity of Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe). They provide a gentle pick-me-up and an aromatic journey to accompany you through the intense heat of 中伏.

末伏 mòfú- The Last Period of Heat

末伏 takes place in late August to early September, signaling the transition from summer to autumn. As the weather starts to cool, it’s time to embrace the warmer and delicate flavours of Red Tea. Savour teas like Qimen, Yunnan Dianhong or Yingde #9 which perfectly complement the changing season. Their earthy undertones add warmth and coziness to your tea moments during 末伏.

What about cold brews? In Traditional Chinese medicine, drinking cold beverages is not recommended and teas usually drunk warm. However, feel free to experiment with your teas, and experience how cold brew brings out different flavours and aromas in the teas you usually drink hot!

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