A tomb-sweeping dish of mugwort and red bean

Today’s Tomb Sweeping Festival (also known as the Qingming Festival) is an opportunity to enjoy its most famous snack: Qingtuan (青团)

These green dumplings are made of glutinous rice mixed with Chinese mugwort leaves and are usually filled with sweet red bean paste. Edible when they are young and fresh, mugwort leaves are burned to repel mosquitos, used to treat minor swelling, and are even said to ward off evil. Before modern medicine, boiled mugwort leaves were regarded a great disinfectant, and washing your feet in warm mugwort-leaf water was also believed to bring a good night of sleep. In TCM, these leaves are prescribed to repel “cold” and “damp” inside the body, just want you want in a spring day.

To make this snack, local people mash fresh mugwort leaves and mix them with flour. Then, sweet red bean filling is wrapped into the dough. After steaming, the Qingming dumpling becomes soft and delicate, with a mellow taste.

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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