”National ceremonies, the Royal Palace gives tea… Milk is used as juice, so it makes people fat.”
——Aixinjueluo·Hongli “Gaozong Yuzhi Poetry Collection”
”Milk tea”, as the name suggests, contains “milk” ( Usually milk) also has “tea (water)”. But now probably few people think that the two were once rivals to each other in history.
Cheese slave “turn over”
The origin of tea is in China. According to legend, Shennong tasted a hundred herbs, encountered 72 poisons a day, and got tea to cure them. The roots of ancient tea trees planted by ancestors 5,500-7,000 years ago have been unearthed in the Tianluoshan site in Yuyao, Zhejiang. Because “a building close to the water gets the moon first”, residents in the Yangtze River Basin first developed the habit of drinking tea. During the Three Kingdoms period, Sun Hao, the ruler of Wu, held a banquet for his officials and replaced wine with tea. This is the earliest record of drinking tea in official history.
At the same time that farming Han areas gradually accepted fragrant tea, the grassland nomads living in the north were mainly engaged in animal husbandry, and formed a distinctive feature of “eating meat and drinking (milk) cheese” in their diet. Dairy products have historically been as important as meat in the diet of nomadic peoples. When the great medieval traveler Marco Polo talked about the food of the Mongolians in the 13th century in his travel notes, he said: “Their usual food is meat and milk.” Specifically, it is “eating meat in winter and milk in summer”.
These two beverages, which originated thousands of miles away, “encountered” during the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties. According to “Luoyang Jialan Ji Baode Temple”, during the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty invited his minister Wang Su to have a meal. During the banquet, he asked, “How is tea drinking like buttermilk?” Go to the Northern Dynasty. As a vassal and dependent on others, he can only find Emperor Xiaowen’s pleasing words to answer, “Only tea is not good (“Zhong” means “good”), and it is used as a slave with butter”, which is used to cater to the nobles of Xianbei who are ashamed of drinking tea. sense of superiority. And this allusion is also the origin of tea’s nickname “Cheese slave”.
However, with the passage of time, even the grassland people who “only know how to bend bows and shoot big eagles” have gradually discovered the beauty of tea. In the dietary structure of nomads, meat and milk are the staple food, so it seems too greasy. The aromatic compounds contained in tea can dissolve fat and remove food stagnation. In addition, there is a lack of vegetables, fruits and other minerals and vitamins on the grassland, so tea needs to be used as a substitute. Therefore, the people of the Ming Dynasty commented that for the nomadic people who lived by water and grass, “eating tea is like Chinese people’s eating grains, and you can’t live without it for a day.”
That being the case, when did these nomads think of mixing “milk” and “tea” together? This is the first thing to mention “ghee”. “Ghee” is a dairy product that looks a bit like butter. The easiest way to make butter tea is to add a small piece of butter to the newly boiled hot salt tea, stir it slightly, let it melt, and then drink it. If you are more particular, pour the boiled tea into the buttered tea bucket, throw in different amounts of buttered butter, pound it up and down hundreds of times with a piston with a long handle, and then make buttered tea. Ready to drink anytime.
Many people know that butter tea is a drink with local characteristics in Tibetan areas, which is rare in other places. But this was not the case in the Yuan Dynasty. The Yuan Dynasty was a dynasty established by the Mongolian aristocrats. At that time, a court food book “Drinking Zheng Yao” recorded “fried tea, blue paste tea, and crisp tea”. Stir-fried with masige oil (Yiyunbai ghee), milk seeds, and tea buds.” Although the three methods of making tea are different, they have one thing in common: they all add ghee.
Why did the court of the Yuan Dynasty imitate the habit of making tea in Tibetan areas? This is related to the spread of Tibetan Buddhist culture among the Mongolian upper class. In 1270, Kublai Khan, Emperor Shizu of the Yuan Dynasty, appointed the Tibetan monk Phagspa as the emperor teacher and Dharma king. As far as its influence is concerned, “for a hundred years, those who were respected and trusted by the imperial court did everything they could.” Since monks in Tibetan areas had such a high status in the Yuan court, their lifestyle of liking buttered tea was a must for Mongolian nobles. Absorption is a natural thing. Ghee itself is the fat extracted from milk (or goat milk). If you omit this “refining” process and directly mix milk with tea leaves, it will be a veritable “milk tea”. No wonder some scholars assert that “milk tea probably evolved from Tibetan butter tea”. However, because the court of the Yuan Dynasty has not yet seen the “trace” of “authentic” milk tea, its final formation should be a matter of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
On July 25, 2022, an Internet celebrity milk tea shop opened in Chongqing, and nearly a thousand people lined up a hundred meters long to check in. Many people lined up for more than 3 hours, and some even spent 150 yuan to ask the courier to run errands to buy.
The British add milk and sugar to tea to make milk tea, and at the same time eat and drink it with biscuits, pastries, etc. This is the origin of the famous British “afternoon tea”.
Left: Buttered tea, milk dregs, and barley noodles are Tibetan daily snacks. Picture on the right: The British add milk and sugar to the tea to make milk tea, and at the same time, they also eat and drink it with biscuits, pastries, etc. This is the origin of the famous British “afternoon tea”.
from salty to sweet
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, nomadic peoples, represented by Mongolians, including Kazakhs and Uzbeks, loved to drink milk tea and had deep feelings for milk tea. There is no tea for a day.” In addition, although the Manchus were not strictly nomadic in history, they were greatly influenced by the Mongolians in their living customs (the Manchu script was changed from the Mongolian script). Therefore, “Liu Bian Jilue” records that “the Manchus have a big banquet, and every banquet, the guests sit on the southern kang, the host first delivers cigarettes, and the second offers milk tea, which is called milk tea”. As for the milk tea enjoyed by the court in the Qing Dynasty, there are strict regulations. The milk tea used is not brewed with boiling water, but has to go through a series of complicated processes such as decoction and brewing, and the ratio of tea, milk and salt is also very high. pay attention to. It is said that the raw materials needed to make a small bucket of milk tea are: three and a half catties of milk, two liang of yellow tea, two qian of cream, one liang of green salt and water. In addition, the tea leaves used to make milk tea must be green brick tea. No wonder Emperor Qianlong believed that drinking milk tea could “make people fat”.
But then again, the milk tea that is popular among ethnic minorities in the north is not the same as the milk tea that is a fashionable drink today. The practice of Mongolian milk tea is generally to smash the brick tea first, put it into a teapot or pot to boil, then add fresh milk, after boiling, shake it frequently with a spoon, and when the tea and milk are blended, add a little salt. . What the modern Russian explorer Przevalsky (1839-1888) saw in the Mongolian region was similar: “Brine is usually used to make tea, and if they can’t find salt water, they add some salt to the water. Cut a piece from the top, put it in a mortar, pound it, then pour the tea leaves into boiling water, and add a few bowls of milk.” Apparently, adding salt to tea is a common seasoning action. Coincidentally, there is also a Tibetan proverb that says, “Tea without salt is like water, and people without virtue are like ghosts.”
Since salt is added, the taste of this milk tea is naturally salty. On the other hand, the “net celebrity” milk tea shops on the market today all sell “sweet” drinks – so that girls who pay attention to their figure and avoid sweets often choose “sugar-free”, “less sweet” or even “less sweet”. .
In this way, a question naturally arises: How does milk tea change from salty to sweet? This is about the history of the “globalization” of tea from China. Although the names of tea in languages all over the world come from Chinese (roughly distinguished by the transmission route, the land route comes from the northern dialect, and the sea route comes from the southern Hokkien dialect), every time tea is spread to a place, the way of drinking it inevitably undergoes a process of “localization”. For example, when Indians drink tea, they often add spices, milk, and sugar. The taste is as strong as Indian food, and it will emit a strong flavor of blended spices.
In Britain, it is generally believed that “tea appeared in the middle of the 17th century or in a certain year in the 17th century”. Tea has gradually become a luxury drink respected by British aristocrats from a magical fairy grass full of oriental charm at the beginning, and finally entered the ordinary British people’s favorite drink. Frame S, ⑹, glue, ping, bo, noon, tanning, talking about curtain, nan jiaao.
At first, the British people copied the Chinese way of drinking tea. But it wasn’t long before the practice of adding milk to tea appeared. Around 1700, a lady named Mrs. Russell (Rachel) wrote in a letter, “I saw a glass bottle used to hold milk poured into tea”, which is undoubtedly “milk tea”. The British added milk and sugar to tea to get rid of theophylline, and turned the bitter tea into a sweet drink that suits their taste – just like they transformed the bitter coffee from the equatorial countries into a sweet coffee full of milky aroma. This is the opposite of the taste of drinking tea in the Han area of China. What the Chinese pay attention to is to have a cup of tea in hand, and what they drink is the fresh and fragrant smell, while the British add milk and sugar to the tea to make milk tea, and at the same time, they also have to eat and drink it with biscuits, pastries, etc. This is the origin of the famous English “afternoon tea”.
It is said that the British even did a funny study on the order of making milk tea in the 19th century, and concluded that the milk should be added first and then the tea. The reason is that the rough pottery tea sets used by ordinary people at that time were of poor quality and would easily break when exposed to hot water, so adding milk first could effectively reduce the temperature of the tea. In addition, the price of tea was more expensive than milk at that time, adding milk first could also reduce the consumption of tea. Whether to add milk first or last is purely a personal preference.
old tree new flower
In modern times, with the expansion of British colonialism into East Asia, the custom of “afternoon tea” and the way (sweet) milk tea is prepared also opened the door to China. For example, in Hong Kong (reverted to China in 1997), which was stolen by the British through unequal treaties, there is a slang saying: “three three, afternoon tea”. That is to say, the tea time at 3:35 p.m. every day is an unshakable time.
However, Hong Kong is the land of the Chinese after all. Even if the milk tea drunk by the British colonists is located in Hong Kong, it is not immune to the influence of oriental culture, and then conforms to the local regional culture. After British milk tea was introduced to Hong Kong, it was improved into a civilian drink represented by “silk stocking milk tea”. The so-called “silk stockings” refer to the filter bags used to brew milk tea that look like flesh-colored stockings. And “silk stocking milk tea” has now become a symbol of Hong Kong culture.
However, “silk stocking milk tea” is not the predecessor of many milk teas that are popular all over the country today. At the turn of the century, there was a character named “A Qing” in the Shanghai-style sitcom “Old Mother”, which was once popular in the “Yangtze River Delta”. He had a catchphrase called “Pearl milk tea is really delicious”. Compared with “silk stocking milk tea”, this kind of “bubble milk tea” (also called “bubble tea”) is obviously closer to contemporary milk tea.
”Pearl milk tea” first appeared in Taiwan. Founded in 1983, Chun Shui Tang, a chain of teahouses in Taichung, claims to be the inventor of “bubble milk tea”. In the late 1980s, they changed the ratio of milk tea to less milk and more tea, and added Taiwanese local snack “fenyuan (sweet starch ball)” to milk tea. This sweet and chewy way of eating quickly gained the favor of many consumers, hence the name “Pearl Milk Tea”.
By pairing with milk and fruit juice, the taste of “bubble milk tea” becomes sweet, and people of different cultural backgrounds and ages can easily accept the taste of this drink. Compared with the typical British afternoon tea, “bubble milk tea” provides consumers with more taste choices by adding coffee, honey, fruit juice, etc.
As a result, this kind of tea drink quickly became a best-selling product in Taiwan Island, and then “landed” in western restaurants and coffee shops in developed coastal cities in mainland China (such as Shanghai). Become a “fashionable” way of life. After entering the 21st century, tea leaves and condiments such as freshly boiled “pearls”, coconut fruit, and grass jelly began to be added to freshly made tea, and manual on-site hand shaking became the main production method. Due to the abundance of raw materials, milk tea at this time can no longer be simply summarized by the four words “bubble milk tea”, but presents a variety of faces that people are familiar with. Perhaps it is more appropriate to call it “new tea drink”.
As a strictly new thing, milk tea, a “new tea drink”, has achieved amazing success in China, the hometown of tea. According to some statistics, since 1996, it took only 15 years for milk tea to overtake coffee in mainland China, reaching five times its consumption, while coffee has been in China for more than 100 years. However, judging from the history of the spread of tea itself, it first completed the fusion with milk in the collision of farming and nomadic culture to become “milk tea”, and after Yuanbo Europe completed the formation of sweet milk tea, it went back halfway around the world again. shine in China. Isn’t this a typical example of “an old tree blooms new flowers” and a proof of the vigorous vitality of tea, an oriental beverage?