The Tea Horse Road

Most of us have heard of or read about the Silk Road from China to Europe. I’m sure that few have heard of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, which I first read about this morning in the May issue of National Geographic.

Legend says that tea from China arrived in Tibet as early as the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 A.D.). After that, the Chinese traded tea for horses, as many as 25,000 horses annually.

But that isn’t what struck me the most about the piece. It’s the example that demonstrated why the peasants loved and possibly worshiped Mao Tse-Tung.

From May 2010 National Geographic, page 103

For more than a thousand years, men fed their families by carrying hundreds of pounds of tea on their backs across the rugged mountains into Lhasa. Some froze to death in blizzards. Others fell to their deaths from the narrow switchbacks that climbed into the clouds.

This all ended in 1949 when Mao had a road built to Tibet and farmland was redistributed from the wealthy to the poor. “It was the happiest day of my life,” said Luo Yong Fu, a 92-year-old dressed in a black beret and a blue Mao jacket, whom the author of the National Geographic piece met in the village of Changheba.

To learn more about Tibet, visit Tibet – Inside China (part one of five)


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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5 Responses to The Tea Horse Road

  1. Ezekiel says:

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for inexperienced blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

    • Blog at least once a week and post on the same day at the same time so your readers get used to the schedule. Also keep your Blog posts below 500 words. It also helps to have at least one picture or photograph with each blog post.

      If you want a chance at a larger audience—there are never any guarantees—then post every day at the same time and never miss a post. Never!

      Every post opens another window for search engines to find your Blog. If you have ten posts, that is only ten windows the search engine can look through. If you have a thousand posts… I think you will get the idea. Good luck.

  2. green coffee tea…

    green coffee and green tea…

  3. […] The Tea Horse Road « iLook China […]

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