'White Dew' season has arrived, bringing cool autumn nights
White Dew is the 15th of the 24 annual seasonal cycles on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. It normally falls between September 7-9, when the Sun reaches the longitude of 165 degrees. This year, it falls on Saturday, September 8.
White Dew, the 15th of the 24 annual seasonal cycles on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, begins this year on Saturday, September 8. [File Photo: VCG]
When it arrives, the weather cools and moisture in the air condenses overnight, leaving a carpet of glistening dew on the ground and gathered on the leaves of trees in the early morning. That's why the season is called "Bailu" – in Chinese, "bai" is "white" and "lu" means "dew".
Several folk customs developed around the arrival of White Dew.
A Chinese tea set. [File Photo: VCG]
White Dew tea is a favorite of tea drinkers in Nanjing. It's not a specific variety of tea. Rather, it refers to any tea leaves picked during the White Dew season, which have a sweet taste and delicate flavor. By comparison, tea leaves picked during spring is too tender and can't be brewed for a long time; in summer the leaves are too dry and the flavor is too bitter.
A kind of rice wine. [File Photo: VCG]
In Hunan, Zhejiang, and parts of Jiangsu, there is a tradition of making wine at this time of year using cereal such as glutinous rice and Chinese sorghum. Wine made in this time of year is slightly sweet, and is a favorite for entertaining guests visiting the countryside.
In Fuzhou, the capital of the southern coastal province of Fujian, it's customary to eat longan fruit to mark the arrival of White Dew.
Longans. [File Photo: VCG]
The longan is a type of sweet tropical fruit that can be eaten raw, put into Chinese soups, or dried and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The White Dew is also a busy time for fishermen on east China's Taihu Lake. At the start of White Dew they hold a ceremony to honor Dayu, a legendary figure in ancient Chinese history who saved many villages by leading the construction of dams and dikes to divert flood waters.
A pot of black-bone chicken stewed with Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs. [File Photo: VCG]
On the first day of White Dew the city of Wenzhou, it is customary to collect 10 medicinal herbs that have the Chinese word for white, "bai", in their names. These ingredients are usually stewed with black-bone chicken or duck.
The arrival of the White Dew also provided a rich source of inspiration for Chinese poets and artists over thousands of years. This is seen in the famous poem "The Reed", which is in the Book of Songs, the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry. It contains over 300 works that date from the 7th century B.C. to the 11th century A.D.