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Tea and Chinese local opera
Tea plays a major role in Chinese social life and has been widely written into drama since the 7th century Tang Dynasty. Here we can enjoy a good tale from Kunqu opera, “Story of Mingfeng- drinking tea”.

The story goes that in the Ming Dynasty (14th century) there was an evil and corrupt prime minister called Yan Song. One of his officials, Zhao Wenhua, bribed his way into favour and was promoted to governor. No one dared to show their anger at this except Yang Jisheng, an upright loyal official.

Yang Jisheng decided to present a petition to the throne against this corruption case, but he was stopped half way there by Zhao Wenhua in his office. Zhao received him with a cup of tea, and so an intensive argument was enacted using this cup of tea as an essential prop.
Zhao pretending to be friendly said, “This cup of tea has good color.
”Yang coldly replied, “The color may be good, but it is not fragrant!”
Zhao tried not to be upset, “Though it may not be fragrant, its taste is pleasant.”
“It may taste pleasant, but I’m afraid the taste doesn’t linger,” answered Yang immediately. Whilst saying these words, he threw the tea out on the floor.

In this tale, tea becomes the means of pushing forward the development of the story.


Kunqu (昆曲), composed around the mid 14th century, is the oldest existing Chinese opera. Music and poetry contribute to its character. It is listed as part of world’s non-material cultural heritage.



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