The Ancient Tea Horse Road: Official 8 Episodes Video Documentary

Watch all the episodes of this historic documentary on the tea horse road by CCTV/CNTV. All episodes are in Chinese, supplemented with English subtitles.

The Ancient Tea Horse Road – Part 1

Resembling the famous Silk Road, the Ancient Tea Road located in southwestern China was an important gateway for transportation and communication between ancient China and West Asia. It was a giant platform for the political, economic, social and cultural intersection of different ethnic groups and a gigantic lifeline stretching on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Cultural Exchange Along Ancient Tea Horse Route – Part 2

Tea and tea culture were first exported from China to the West. For centuries, caravans carried tea from one destination to anther, from one country to another, even to the other side of the earth. It became a never-ending link connecting different ethnic groups and continents.

The Traces of the Southern Silk Road – Part 3

Searching for traces of the caravans of the ancient road is like salvaging a sunken boat in the ocean. This missing tribe has been hiding in the mountains, valleys and forests of the vast southwest. Only the scattered folktales can we faintly see their figures.

The Stories of the Ancient Tea Trail – Part 4

For the caravans of the past, the ancient road was largely a test of life and will. Many of the spectacles were life or death moments. And there were so many such moments in their lives. There were endless roads and nonstop wind.

The Ancient Tea Horse Caravan Path – Part 5

The ancient road is motionless in the paintings, but the road that carries time, culture, caravans, and business travellers is a record, the hooves are the needles, allowing the road to sing its songs on the horseback.

The Ancient Tea Horse Trail: Yanjing – Part 6

Yanjing Village is properly described as a throat. It’s not only the gate to Tibet, but also a spiritual home for many ethnic groups and cultures. In the 19th century, the foreign missionaries entered Tibet from India via the ancient road, and then made their way to Yanjing, bringing the Western religion to the local Tibetans and Naxi people.

The Ancient Tea Caravan Road: Road To Fortune – Part 7

The most important function of the ancient road is trade and circulation. As small as households, and as large as trans-provincial and transnational business families, their success depended primarily on this road. For many people, the ancient road is the road of fortune and prosperity.

The Ancient Tea Road: The Midsection – Part 8

The midsection of the ancient road is the converging point of Yunnan-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet Ancient Tea-Horse roads. The majority of the residents here are Tibetans, and most of the famous horse drivers are from this area. A song of the town names of the ancient roads is still popular.

How Feng Shui, Money Frogs & The Tea Drinking Environment Are Related

If you’ve ever seen a traditional Chinese tea ceremony setting, you probably noticed these little money frogs on the tea table. These money frogs are known as ‘tea pets’. Besides these money frogs, tea pets are also available in other forms such as buddhas/monks and mythical creatures. These tea pets in fact are great to own for some additional ‘luck’ and improve the ‘feng shui’ of a tea drinking environment. Learn more in this article!

What is Feng Shui?

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese philosophical system as well as a geomantic practice. It has a close link to Taoism. The term “Feng Shui” literally translates as “wind-water” in English. It focuses on harmonising everyone with the surrounding environment by positioning objects within a building or an area in a way that everything agrees with spiritual forces.

Feng Shui and Tea

Feng Shui practice discusses the spiritual forces that bind the universe, earth, and human together. It has a metaphorical connection with the tea, as tea is believed as the essence of the universe, earth, and human. We can also find this connection in Gaiwan teaware: the lid as the universe, the saucer as earth, and the bowl as the human being.

Tea Pets

Tea pets are small figures of animals, plants and folklore characters, usually made of Zisha (Yixing clay) – same material as Yixing teapots. It is common for tea lovers to own tea pets for good luck.

To “raise” a tea pet means to pour leftover tea over it to “nourish” it. Over time, the tea pet absorbs the tea and becomes glossier and more lifelike, along with the aroma of the tea.

Feng Shui and Tea Pets

The basic Feng Shui rules for all the tea pets are simple: tea pets should be at the upper left corner of the tea table, or at the front row of the tea tray.

There are however specific rules regarding different figures of tea pets. Let’s take a look at the rules for some popular tea pets in China.

1. Money frog

In Chinese legend, Money frog turned from evil to good and helped out the poor people everywhere by spitting out money. It represents good fortune and wealth. It has a peculiar look – two legs at front, only one leg at the back that looks like a tail, strings of coins carried on its back, one coin held in its mouth.

If you got one Money frog tea pet with a coin held in the mouth, the good Feng Shui rule to follow is to face it to yourself. Never face it to the door, because it means to turn the good fortune away. If the Money frog didn’t have a coin in the mouth, which is rare, then you should face it to the door, that means it would draw the wealth to you.

2. Pixiu

A Pixiu is a Chinese mythical animal that looks like a fierce lion with wings. Its figure is widely used in Feng Shui practice. It is believed that a Pixiu can stabilise houses and avoid evil spirits. It eats only gold, silver and jewels and never deficates, so it draws wealth from all directions to the house, and the wealth stays and accumulates. Because of this, Pixiu has been traditionally considered an auspicious protector that brings good luck and wealth.

Feng Shui tips for Pixiu tea pet:

  • Face it to the front door and make sure that nothing is too close to block its view; otherwise it can’t see evil sprits and good fortune.
  • Pixiu loves to be clean, make sure there’s no dirt or leftover tea leaves on it.

 3. The Laughing Buddha

In Chinese culture, The Laughing Buddha represents both contentment and abundance. His figure usually is a stout, laughing bald man with an exposed big belly. People believe that rubbing his belly brings wealth, good luck, and prosperity.

Feng Shui tips for a Laughing Buddha tea pet: Because a Laughing Buddha’s smile shows his hospitality to every guest, as a tea pet figure, it should be facing the front door, welcoming every guest and the good luck to come.

Tea Related Names for Cats, Dogs & Other Pets

You might wonder how we came up with such a weird topic. The truth is, we didn’t come up with this idea at all. See for example this Reddit post or this Yahoo Answers page, and you can see that tea names for cats and dogs are pretty populair.

tea names for cats kittens

If you are a tea lover and happens to have a pet, it is just natural to give your pet a tea related name. We have gathered people’s opinions on this topic from different forums, sites and added our own ideas. We hope you enjoy this fun list and find a suitable tea name for your pet!

  • Purr’Er: this one is simply our favorite. The cat owner certainly showed his/her love of Pu’er!
  • Earl Grey: male, grey color, of course.
  • Lady Grey: female, grey color, of course.
  • Pekoe: great name for orange cats!
  • Meowfeng: a lovely wordplay, would be a cute name for a kitten.
  • Da hong paw: it is the perfect name for a red-hair cat or dog.
  • Matcha: a fun word to pronounce over and over.
  • Yixing: it sounds cute, and it’s at the perfect level of obscurity. Meaning that non-tea people won’t get it, but common enough that all tea people will get it.
  • Camillia/Camellia: an elegant name for female pets.
  • Ya Shi/Duck Shit: someone suggested, “Ya Shi when they are being good, but when they scratch your furniture, it’s Duck Shit all the way.”
  • Chai: it is one of the most popular tea related pet names. This spiced tea drink is perfect for the pets who seems to have a bit of extra “zing” to them.
  • Iron goddess: sounds like a proud pet!
  • Keemun: A black tea name for black cats and dogs!
  • Yunnan tea regions for pu erh lovers: Yiwu. Menghai. Bulang. Jinggu. Nannuo. Naka. Bingdao. Xikong. Bangdong. Fengqing. All the names are Pu’er mountains and regions in Yunnan, China.
  • Great pet names if you’re a herbal tea lover: Chamomile, Yerba, Tisane.
  • Love a certain brand? Perhaps use them as a name: Twinings, Lipton etc.

tea related name for dogs

If you are looking for a distinct name for your pet, hope this list has given you some inspiration!

Highly Concentrated Tea Industry Is Destroying Communities

There’s only a dozen giant tea companies in the world that control the tea supply chain, driving down wages and destroying communities.

These dominant companies have delivered great results to their shareholders, but their success is damaging the tea economy. In today’s market, it’s the winners that take it all and leave a mess for the rest to clean up.

Without mentioning the brands, these firms have fantastic brands, great packaging and excellent service. Though it sounds great to consumers, there’s a downside. They’ve large bargaining power that allows them to drive down wages and increasing inequality.

But that’s not it. These companies enjoy economies of scale and lobby with governments for subsidies, regulatory favours and tax breaks. And this highly prevents entrepreneurship. To reduce competition further, they acquire potential rivals to continue control the distribution channels.

With a few companies in the game, these companies together act more like a cartel instead of competitors.

So what’s the problem? For hundreds of years economists and policy makers ignored the increase in concentration in the tea industry. As long as consumers weren’t harmed, they kind of ignored it.

But even that’s not true. Consumers today have less choice. Teas we buy are a blend of raw material from different countries. Large companies don’t value diversity, they value consistency. So the consumer has less choice. Moreover, farmers won’t work hard to improve the taste, but focus on driving down cost. There tea will end up as a small part of a blend anyways.

In conclusion, the winner takes all tea industry is making losers out of tea growers and communities. We need more competition, and find a way to allow individual growers to shine!

If you’re a grower what can you do about it?

Luckily technological developments have allowed growers to avoid the large corporations and sell directory to consumers or local distributors like tea shops and small businesses. As a tea grower, here’s what you can do:

  • Unionise and bargain together for a better deal
  • Diversify your distribution channels by sell online through a webshop or online platforms
  • Create a brand that consumers will love
  • Innovate through packaging
  • Be transparent about your teas (where is it from, which season, why is it unique?
  • Focus on producing high quality and unique teas
  • Starbucks Tries It Again, Starts Selling Milk Tea in China

    One time I walked into a Starbucks in China and found that they’re selling authentic Chinese tea such as Biluochun green tea and Jasmine tea in tins. I found it strange, since Starbucks wouldn’t be my place to buy real tea. I don’t think most Chinese would either.

    Recently, Marketing Interactive reports that Starbucks tries again to enter the tea market. Now with bottled milk teas sold in supermarkets and online. Is it gonna work? I’ve my doubts.

    In 2016, Starbucks also introduced Teavana teas in China as reported by Bloomberg. This line of teas doesn’t really compete with the authentic Chinese teas, but rather competes with the bubble tea chains that that have been extremely successful.

    Yet, I don’t think it worked out well. I don’t know any friends who go to Starbucks for an iced tea. I think it’s a mistake for a coffee person to believe that having a coffee background means that they can sell tea. Especially not in China. Taiwanese bubble tea shops probably understand Asian customers better when it comes to commercial tea drinks.

    So in my opinion, the success of Starbucks still strongly relies on a strong global brand that represents the coffee culture. And they should stick to it. I’ve yet to see a really creative coffee tailored to the Chinese market, and I hope they do it before it’s too late. Remember, KFC had many years of success due to it’s Western image. The whole menu was completely new to Chinese, and thus entertaining to try. But today, that’s not enough anymore. They’ve to reinvent themselves and perhaps localise more.

    5 Zongzi Recipe Videos You’ll Love

    Dragon Boat Festival is just around the corner, and you might want to make some delicious zongzi. It’s a kind of dumpling made from sticky rice and different ingredients wrapped in a bamboo leaves.

    Making zongzi is never boring as there are so many great recipes out there. We’ve watched tons of videos on YouTube to discover the best ones, and they’re shared with you right below.

    Salty Pork Zongzi

    Angel Wong is sharing her secret zongzi recipe with you in this video. She recommends ingredients such as pork, Chinese sausage, peanuts, chestnuts, salty egg, dried mushrooms, dried shallots. It’s a great video as all the steps are carefully explained in detail.

    Salty Chicken Zongzi

    Another great video! The style is completely different than the previous video. There’s no voice, but the steps are demonstrated in clear detail with positive background music. The recipe uses chicken in

    stead of pork and it seems to get some nice seasoning with anise and cinnamon. The use of dried shrimps also looks promising.

    Sweet Red Bean Zongzi Recipe

    Prefer sweet instead of salty? You’re not the only one. In China, especially the Northern regions love sweet zongzi such as this red bean dumpling.

    Making Zongzi/Joong with Family!

    The recipe of this video is quite similar to the previous ones that explain how to make a salty zongzi. Yet, this video is amazing because it shares more background information about the Dragon Boat Festival and why it’s so much fun to make zongzi together with family!

    Taiwanese Zongzi Recipe

    Do you need to make a zongzi that’s super authentically Taiwanese? Then watch this one:

    Now you know how to cook zongzi! You can stick to the instructions in the above videos or improve and make your own ones. After all, glutinous rice goes well with lots of ingredients.


    Zongzi: Which Type of Sticky Rice Dumpling Do You Prefer?

    The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival) falls on every 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It’s therefore also known as the ‘double fifth festival’. On the Western calendar, it falls on the 30th of May this year (2017).

    What is Zongzi?

    If you’re in China, you’ll notice the festival is just around the corner when people start preparing “Zongzi” a type of glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. It’s a traditional type of food people eat around this time of year. It’s also common for the Chinese to visit relatives and friend and exchange zongzi.

    Salty of Sweet Zongzi?

    Depends on the regions, Zongzi have different flavours and shapes. Generally speaking, in the North of China, people have the custom of making sweet Zongzi. Whilst in the South, people seem to love savory Zongzi more.

    Types of Zongzi

    Let’s check out some of the types of Zongzi from different parts of China.

    Beijing Zongzi

    As the representative of northern style Zongzi, Beijing Zongzi are big in size, usually with jujube and sweet red bean sauce as stuffing, some are filled with dried fruits.

    sweet zongzi

    Cantonese Zongzi

    Plenty of ingredients and time are used in the making of Cantonese Zongzi. Sticky rice, mung beans, yolk of salted egg, peanuts, pork and lotus seeds are all wrapped in the large bamboo leaves.

    cantonese zongzi recipe

    Jiaxing Zongzi

    Jiaxing is well-known for its delicious Zongzi, The most famous Zongzi brand in China, Wu Fang Zhai, is from Jiaxing. The quality of the ingredients is the key: first-class glutinous rice mixed with finely selected pork. When you eat it, you won’t feel the grease from the pork because it blends perfectly with the rice.

    jiaxing zongzi recipe

    Southern Fujian Zongzi

    In Xiamen and Quanzhou, there are nicely marinated pork Zongzi. People put stewed pork belly, shelled shrimps, mushrooms, spiced soup and sugar in the sticky rice. They eat the Zongzi with the dipping that’s made of mashed garlic and wasabi, chili sauce and picked turnip and so on, sounds tasty!

    zongzi recipe xiamen taiwan

    Green Tea And Coconut Oil?

    green tea coconut oil

    You’ve probably heard about it. People putting spoons of coconut oil in their tea, saying that it will help health and help them lose weight. But is Green tea with coconut oil really worth the hype?

    Green Tea and Coconut Oil for Weight Loss?

    Nutritional Therapist Daniel O’Shaughnessy, known for his blog “the naked nutritionist”, claims that it has numerous health benefits and can be useful in diet, even going so far as giving the mixture the moniker “Bulletproof Green Tea”.

    This superman of a beverage contains high levels of antioxidants and there has been research whether it has effect on weight loss or aging.  Coconut oil is, as critics have stated, saturated fat but it also source of medium chain fatty acids, which has been linked to many health benefits including increasing metabolism.

    Coconut oil also contains Lauric Acid which has been shown to benefit immunity to disease and to bone health. Green tea with a tablespoon of Coconut oil, or “Bulletproof Green Tea”, can help curb appetite and maybe help prime the body to burn fat.

    Miranda Kerr, an australian model, is a known user of coconut oil in her diet  is reported to have said,

    “I will not go a day without coconut oil. I personally take four tablespoons per day, either on my salads, in my cooking or in my cups of green tea.”

    Side Effects?

    In response to her claim, many doctors, including the World Health Organization have deemed this degree of coconut oil as risky. It is saturated and those doctors make the claim that this consumption of saturated fat may lead to coronary problems.

    There are definitely two schools of thought in terms of coconut oil. One, that because it is indeed and oil and a fat – believe it should not be made part of a daily diet and could be replaced by other things in your diet by other things – maybe even cracking out that dark chocolate bar.

    The other side cites that the high quantity of lauric acid in coconut oil and that the oil is converted into immediate energy, not fat, outweighs any negative effects, if any.

    Whatever school you find yourself in, coconut oil in your tea is definitely something to try. You may not come out of it looking like Miranda Kerr, but with something cool enough to be called “bulletproof”, why not give this super tea a try? All you need to do is brew that mug of green tea and put a spoon of coconut oil in it – and you’re ready to rock out and next time you’ll  be bulletproof.

    Coconut Oil in Tea for Sore Throat

    Green tea in itself can be great to fight sore throat. It reduces inflammation which is often the cause of a sore throat. Adding coconut oil will even improve the effect, as it further soothes your throat.

    Green Tea and Coconut Oil for Hair

    It’s true that certain herbal teas, such as rosemary tea, is good for a hair rinse. There’s no scientific proof though that green tea also works. I can imagine that coconut oil could work, but there’s also no proof for this for now.

    Green Tea and Coconut Oil Face Mask

    This is an excellent idea as green tea contains anti-oxidants that’s great for skin, while the coconut oil further ads vitamins for a healthy skin. We highly recommend to use matcha powder though instead of loose leaves or tea bags.

    Simply mix 1/2 tablespoon matcha powder with 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Stir it until it’s well mixed and apply it on your face. Now relax for 20 minutes and wash it off!