Work, mahjong and tea are the secret to longevity (in Hong Kong, anyway).
“So what is Hong Kong’s secret to a long life?
Experts say there is no single elixir, but contributing factors include easy access to modern health care, keeping busy, traditional Cantonese cuisine and even the centuries-old Chinese tile game of mahjong.”
Photo by PoenaGabriel.
Source: Flickr / poenagabriel
By Ernest H Wilson 1908, Sichuan Sheng.
“Men laden with ‘Brick Tea’ for Thibet. One man’s load weighs 317 lbs. Avoird. The other’s 298 lbs. Avoird.!! Men carry this tea as far as Tachien lu accomplishing about 6 miles per day over vile roads, 5000 ft.”
It has been suggested that Wilson must have made a mistake, or swallowed an exaggeration, about the weight of the loads. But regardless, that’s a lot of tea going up and up into the Tibetan Plateau.
“Chinese marbled tea eggs, stewed in a black tea/soy sauce/spice blend, are a ubiquitous and cheap snack sold all around China in snack stands and convenience stores. They’re also easy to make at home. Getting the marbling effect is as simple as cracking the egg once it’s partially cooked. You can use any black tea, though I use Pu’er for an earthier taste. (Green tea is too astringent to use for tea eggs.) The eggs can be simmered for 1 to 3 hours; longer simmering means a more intense flavor and color.”
Pi Rixiu and the Tea Classic
Pi Rixiu, sometimes known as Pi Ximei, was a late Tang Dynasty poet and a resident of Suzhou. He is known for his friendship and collaboration with Lu Guimeng (together they pioneered a style of poetry called Pi-Lu), and is also occasionally credited with editing Lu Yu’s Tea Classic.
The Tang emperors were very friendly with the kingdoms to their west (this was the heyday of the Silk Road, after all) and the story goes that the State of Huihe (roughly the modern day Uyghur Autonomous Region) would often trade directly with the Tang Court.
On one occasion the Hui traders offered horses for tea and their Tang counterparts quickly agreed. The next time the two sides met to trade, the State of Huihe offered another 1000 horses for Lu Yu’s Tea Classic.
The Tea Classic was highly regarded, but hard to find, and emissaries from the Tang Court spread out across the country looking for a copy. The copy they found was Pi’s.
Shen Nong (神农), the Divine Farmer and “Emperor of Five Grains” is widely credited as the father of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the official inventor of tea as we know it.
Legend holds that Shennong had a transparent body, and thus could see the effects of different plants and herbs on himself. Tea, which acts as an antidote against the poisonous effects of some seventy herbs, is also said to have been his discovery. Shennong first tasted it, traditionally in ca. 2737 BC, from tea leaves on burning tea twigs, after they were carried up from the fire by the hot air, landing in his cauldron of boiling water.
Furthermore, despite a separation of almost 20 generations, he is also supposed to have been pals with the Yellow Emperor, founder of Modern China.
‘Tea Stove’ by Zhu Xi
Stone stove left behind by immortals, Lies crooked in the center of the stream. Tea finished, two boats drift on abreast, Tea smoke; wafting delicate fragrance.