Tea and Beer: Part 2
Time to read through the show-down between tea and beer!
We saw in the previous post how a series of manuscripts found in Western China led to recovery of a Tang dynasty text about tea and beer... What goes down in this strange little tale actually speaks to some of the classic issues we discuss nowadays about what drinks to drink. So who wins the contest? Well, it goes a little something like this:
"Listen to me for a little bit. I am the chief of the hundred herbs and flower of the ten thousands plants. People honor me by taking my stamens... I am presented to the families of emperors and kings."
"That's nothing! I can help people talk to spirits!"
"Well, myriad countries come to Fuliang and Shezhou seeking their teas... in Yuejun, Yuyao and Hangzhou gold and silk are even used to make bags for keeping tea."
"What about the various types of delicious beer, Chrysanthemum blossom, Jade liquor?
"The Buddhas have esteemed me. Beer, as for you, by contrast, you can destroy households and separate families... after a person has knocked down three small cups, it causes him to fall deep into sin."
"Well, it was while under the influence of beer that the King of Qing once beat a rhythm on a jug! – but no one wants to sing or dance for tea. You are boring."
The struggle goes on with each side making similar accusations... until the surprise arrival of Water, who sneaks up behind them!
Finally, rather than declaring himself the unexpected winner, water does something typical of a Chinese philosopher –– he calls for harmony.
"From now on, you definitely must get along harmoniously with each other. That way, the beer shops will prosper and the tea houses will not be ruined. You are brothers forever, as it must be from the beginning to the end."
Is that how you expected this to turn out? No, us neither, but it does make sense when we think about it...