Chinese Tea Mythology: Yellow Mountain Fur Peak

huangshan Chinese Tea Mythology: Yellow Mountain Fur Peak

Huangshan

This green tea (also known as Huangshan Maofeng) is grown in the mountains of Huangshan (which translates to Yellow Mountain) in the Anhui province of China.  The rest of the tea’s name is derived from the furry down that is found on the bud when picked.  Once brewed, the tea becomes a yellow liquid that is well known for its flowery flavor.  It is said to have a gentle flavor of apricots and orchids.

The legend of this tea’s origin is actually a love story.

There was once a beautiful young tea picker.  She had fallen in love with a young and handsome scholar and he, too, was in love with her.  Their love was not meant to be.  A wealthy landowner saw the tea picker one day and became mesmerized with her beauty.  He knew that he must have her.  He went to the tea picker’s parents and convinced them to allow him to marry their daughter.  On the night before her wedding, the beautiful tea picker snuck out of her house and ran to her lover’s home.  She had wanted to see her handsome scholar at least one more time before she was wed to another man.  When she arrived at the scholar’s home, she was horrified to find that her lover had been murdered by the wealthy landowner.  The tea picker managed to find her lover’s grave.  She sat at the grave and wept.  She wept for days and nights until eventually she turned into the rain itself.  She continued to rain onto the grave until the first Maofeng tree grew.  The scholar’s body had become the tree.

What do you think of this story, dear readers?  Like any other myth on tea is full of magic and mystery.  I think it is a beautiful story.

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Chinese Tea Mythology: Green Snail Spring (Bi Lo Chun)

snail race Chinese Tea Mythology: Green Snail Spring (Bi Lo Chun)

Green Snail Shell Tea

Green Snail Spring…just as the name suggests, you would think.  There are a couple of legends surrounding the origin of the name.  The first is the most obvious: the leaves are curly like snails.

But it would not have a place in the Chinese Mythology series if it did not have a magical story.  According to Studying the Art of Tea by Li Wei, there is a love story involved with the tea.

The story involves a beautiful young woman called Bilou Maiden (which translated literally to green snail) who was beautiful and kind with a beautiful voice that echoed.  She lived in the Dongting Mountain.

One day there was a four-legged beast that tore through the village frightening villagers and fishermen alike.  The height of that fear was the day the creature stole Bilou Maiden away.

bi lo chun Chinese Tea Mythology: Green Snail Spring (Bi Lo Chun)

Bi Lo Chun

In the village also lived a handsome young warrior by the name of Ah-Xiang.   He made the decision to battle the beast himself on behalf of village and save the beautiful Bilou Maiden.  Armed with only a pitchfork, he found the beast and Bilou Maiden at the lake.  He caught the beast off guard while it was bathing in the lake.  The handsome warrior rammed the pitchfork into the beast’s side.  Ah-Xiang and the beast then engaged in battle, a long laborious battle that waged for seven days and seven nights.  Ah-Xiang became wounded, his blood splattered onto a nearby tree.  The tree came to life, its branches waving in the air, lashing out at the beast until it was entrapped in the tree’s branches.  Upon hearing the beast’s capture, the entire village came with their own pitchforks and within moments the beast was overrun and destroyed.

Ah-Xiang was still severely injured.  Bilou Maiden saw how much this handsome warrior loved her for why else would he have risked his life to save her?  The girl then devoted her life to save the warrior.  Bilou Maiden tried everything to save her love but all to no avail.  Ah-Xiang still grew weaker and weaker.  Eventually Bilou Maiden tried one more time.  She went back to the lake, to the magical tree that was still stained with Ah-Xiang’s blood.  She picked the leaves, thinking that they would have healing powers.

Bilou Maiden brewed the leaves into a tea and gave it to Ah-Xiang.  Once the drink touched his lips, Ah-Xiang immediately began to recover.  He decided that he would continue to drink this tea until he recovered.  Daily he drank the tea and daily he recovered.  However, as he continued to recover Bilou Maiden began to grow weaker.  By the time our hero was completely healed, Bilou Maiden was too weak to sustain life and she died shortly afterwards.   In memory of the beautiful maiden they named the tea after her.

I think that’s such a beautiful and tragic story.  Do you think so, dear readers?

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Chinese Tea Mythology: The Big Red Robe

da hong pao Chinese Tea Mythology: The Big Red Robe

Da Hong Pao's Big Red Robe

Da Hong Pao is a well known oolong tea from Wuyi Mountains of the Fujian province of China. There are four types of teas grown in this area and Da Hon Pao (Big Red Robe Tea) is by far the most popular.

According to legends , there was an emperor in the Ming Dynasty whose mother had grown gravely ill. The mother was given a cup of tea and within merely moments she began to recover. The emperor was so grateful that he had copious amounts of a rare red cloth to cover the trees during that winter to ensure their survival. The locals then began to call the tree Big Red Robe in honor of the cloth that was wrapped around these trees.

There are other legends that state that it was not the mother but the wife of the emperor who fell deathly ill. These legends tell the story that the empress grew up in the Wuyi Mountains and her illness was due to homesickness.

The emperor loved his wife dearly and employed any and every doctor of the land to try and save his wife. However, nothing could be done to save the dying empress.

Then there came a pious farmer who greatly loved the emperor and lived but a stone’s throw from where the empress originated. He prayed, hoping to glean and idea on how to save his beloved emperor’s wife. One night, he dreamed that a goddess came to him and told him the cure: a gnarled bush that grew on a high and steep cliff. The farmer bravely scaled the cliff and retrieved a couple of leaves.

The leaves were immediately sent to the emperor, who decided to take the risk and make the tea. As soon as the tea touched the lips of the empress, she was reminded of her home and quickly began to regain her health.

The emperor was so pleased and grateful that he gave the farmer imperial red robes to honor the farmer for his services of the emperor and his wife. In response, the farmer then called the tea ‘red robe tea’ and the tea was picked yearly for the empress to remind her of her home.

I think it’s such a beautiful story. I also believe that it speaks volumes on the healing power of tea. It may not bring people from the brink of death, but curing homesickness….sure thing. What do you think, dear readers?

Posted in Article, Chinese Tea, Legends, Loose Tea, Mythology, Myths, Oolong Tea, Stories, Tea | 1 Comment »

Chinese Tea Mythology: The Legend of Pu’erh

pu erh Chinese Tea Mythology: The Legend of Puerh

Pu'erh

To many tea connoisseurs, the leaf is like a fine wine what with its colorful flavors, delightful scents and beautiful array colors. There is also another attribute that tea has in common with wine: that their flavor (for some teas) grows better with time.

Pu-erh tea is just that…a tea that is stored for a period of time where its flavor matures and improves with time. However, it is not just stored in loose leaf form, it can also be packed tightly into balls or disks or other fun shapes.

How is it that flavor can improve with time? Well, like wine (or beer) Pu-erh goes through a fermentation process while stored which changes the chemical make-up of the tea thus giving it a different flavor. It even changes its color!

Isn’t that cool? It makes you wonder who came up with that idea. Well, never fear, dear readers, there is a legend for that!

According to some , tea merchants of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A. D.) began packing the teas into bricks, which were easier to load and transport. It would take these teas month to reach their destination. These destinations ranged from Tibet to India to Beijing. During the extended travel and the ever changing climates something happened: the tea began to change. The aforementioned fermentation process occurred during transport. This made the tea’s color change from green to dark and the flavor became richer and more complex.

The tea was called Pu-erh after the town of the same name which is located in central Yunnan. The teas did not actually originate from this village; however, it was a centralized trading post for teas harvested and made from the nearby areas before being sent to faraway lands.

I thought this was such a fascinating and unique take on tea. I think it would make such a great gift idea! Think about it… It would make a great wedding or birthday gift. Each year or anniversary, the tea can be enjoyed because it will continue to improve.

What do you think, dear readers? Any other ideas of what you could do with this tea?

Posted in Black Tea, Chinese Tea, Green Tea, Legends, Loose Tea, Mythology, Myths, Stories, Tea | 1 Comment »

Chinese Tea Mythology: Lung Ching – Dragonwell

water dragon Chinese Tea Mythology: Lung Ching   Dragonwell

Water Dragon by Anne Stokes

Don’t anger the dragon…

Dragon Well gets its name from a Chinese village of the same name: “Lung Ching” or “Lungching.”  In the year 250 AD, there was a drought that took hold of this little village.  The Taoist priests told the villagers that if they prayed to the Dragon who lived in a nearby spring then perhaps he will bring the rain.  They believed that this spring led to an underground sea where the Dragon lived.  It seemed only plausible that this creature could bring them the water from the sea.   The villagers prayed and prayed until finally the rains came.  In honor of the Dragon, the villagers and priests named the village ‘Dragon Well.’

It’s such a magical story…But wait, there’s more…

There are also stories as to how the tea of this area received the status of Gong Cha (a tribute tea).   The Chinese Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty traveled the area of Dragon Well.  Once while he rested at the Hugong Temple, a monk handed him a cup of Dragon Well tea.  The emperor was refreshed and grateful and repaid the monks by honoring the eighteen tea trees of Dragon Well, giving them an imperial status.  Since then, the leaves were plucked each year to be specially delivered to the imperial palace.

Some legends say the emperor was so enamored by the tea after the first taste that he pocketed a few leaves to take back with him to the capital.  During the journey, the leaves in Qianlong’s pocket were flattened into the characteristic shape that we know today.  However, there are others that believe that the flattened leaf was influenced by the Dafang tea from the neighboring area.

longjing Chinese Tea Mythology: Lung Ching   Dragonwell

Dragonwell Tea

What do you think dear readers?   I find this to be a lovely story, don’t you agree?

Posted in Chinese Tea, Green Tea, Legends, Loose Tea, Myths, Stories, Tea | No Comments »