Saturday, July 26, 2014

The 24 best situations for drinking tea

The Chinese scholar and tea connoisseur Xu Cishu 许次纾 from Ming Dynasty describes in his book Tea Report 《茶疏》 these 24 most suitable situations for drinking tea:

  1.  心手闲适    when you are idle and relaxing
  2.   披咏疲倦   when tired of reading poetry
  3.   意绪棼乱   in time of confused thoughts
  4.   听歌拍曲   when listening songs and melodies
  5.   歌罢曲终   when the music has finished
  6.   杜门避事   when alone
  7.   鼓琴看画   when playing qin zither and looking at paintings
  8.   夜深共语   during conversations in a late night
  9.   明窗净几   when everything is bright and clean
10. 洞房阿阁     in the room of the newlyweds
11.  宾主款狎    when together with the beloved guests
12.  佳客小姬    when hosting distingquished scholars and young beauties
13.  访友初归    when visiting a friend who has returned from afar
14.  风日晴和    when the weather is clear and nice
15.  轻阴微雨    when the weather is cloudy and slightly raining
16.  小桥画舫    when watching the small bridges and the passing boats on the river
17.  茂林修竹    while in lush forests and bamboo groves
18.  课花责鸟    when the flowers bloom in the midsts of birds songs
19.  荷亭避暑    in a lotus pond pavilion during the summer heat
20.  小院焚香    while burning incence in a small temple
21.  酒阑人散    when the late tipsy guests leave
22.  几辈斋馆    when several generations gather in the fasting premises
23.  清幽寺观    when visiting a secluded temple
24.  名泉怪石    when enjoying the view of famous springs and strange rocks

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chanterelle mushrooms and Yunnan medicine

   The chanterelle is a nice forest mushroom with pleasant taste and nourishing qualities. However, according to Dian Nan Ben Cao ("Yunnan Materia Medica") 《滇南本草》, written by Lan Mao 兰茂 in 1436, the chanterelle has damp properties and that's why it is important to be cooked with ginger to counteract the dampness.
I found this citation from Dian Nan Ben Cao worth noting:
"The common people mostly boil [chanterelle] with garlic, thinking that if there is a poison, the garlic will turn black; they don't know that if there is a poison in the mushroom, the garlic not necessarily will blacken. But when ginger encounters the poison, it will surely turn black". 

"世人多以大蒜同煮,以为有毒蒜黑,不知蒜见毒未必即黑,姜见毒则必黑。” 《滇南本草》

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moon, Mars and Spica shining around the Gate of Heaven

Gazing at the stars makes us feel overwhelmed by the beauty and vastness of the sky. Look these several nights for the wonderful trio - Moon, Mars and Spica - gathered together and spreading their light towards all of us!

Spica (角宿一 in Chinese) is the brightest star of Virgo. In Chinese astronomy it is the major star of Horn constellation 角宿, located at the horn of the Azure Dragon in the East. If you make a line connecting Spica (α Virginis) and Heze ( ζ Virginis), then you will have the "Gate of Heaven" 天门, through which pass the ecliptic and the planets of the solar system. It was just two days ago that the Daoist temples throughout East Asia celebrated the Opening of the Gate of Heaven day 天門開日. Now, these days it's time for Mars to pass through the  Gate of Heaven. Enjoy the view!