Ring in the Lunar New Year with a Sweet Treat from Silky Gem

Tết Nguyên Đán, or Lunar New Year, is Vietnam’s most significant celebration, and this year it falls on January 22, 2023. Across Vietnam, families reunite to honor their relatives, past and present, while praying for luck, prosperity and health in the new year.

As a Vietnamese, I understand the importance of this holiday and its deep cultural roots. Tết marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, and the beginning of spring in the North of Vietnam. It traces back to the early days of Vietnamese settlements when Tết meant a new cycle of wet rice cultivation. However, today, the meaning of the holiday runs much deeper than its farming roots. Vietnamese culture emphasises the importance of a fortuitous fresh start, surrounded by family and loved ones.

As the founder of Silky Gem, I was inspired by these traditions to create a unique treat for the Lunar New Year. Silky Gem crystal candies are inspired by the candied crystallized treats called "Mứt" which have been passed down in Vietnamese families since the Thục Dynasty (257–207 BC). These treats are used to serve guests with tea or rice wine and are known to bring health, wealth and good fortune in the new year.

Growing up in a poor family, Lunar New Year's treats were always a luxury for me as a little girl. I remember every year there was only one chance to eat candies like "Mứt Rau Câu, Mứt Rong Sụn". My mom and grandma would make it every year as our family tradition, passed down from my grandmas - great grandmas over decades. We put all of our sweets in a tray to treat our guests who came to visit for the new year. We like to treat them with sweet treats and tea as our tradition. But I remember the taste and how happy I was whenever I was able to get this special treat.

Traditionally, our Mứt Rau Câu is made from sea moss agar. It is packed with lots of different nutrients. Sea moss is boiled down into liquid form, and then sugar and fruits are added for flavoring. It is then sun-dried for 5-7 days. These easy to make dried agar candies are found in many Asian countries. The Japanese version is called kohakutou, while in Indonesia it is called agar agar kering. Thai version called kanom woon grop.

Moving to the USA, these memories kept coming back from time to time, so I decided to bring these treats back to life. Combining the traditions of Vietnamese Lunar New Year and the Japanese Kohakutou art form, I hope these candies bring nothing but joy and luck for everyone who comes across them.

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