The Amazing Story of Pu-Erh Tea: Part 1 of 3

September 26, 2017

The Chinese Tea Shop says, “The history of Pu-Erh Tea can be traced back to “Pu Tea” of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE) with the drying of leaves in the sun in Yunnan province. The plants in this region have large, soft leaves spaced far apart on large, tough stems. Today, Pu-Erh Tea with “large wild leaves” is highly prized.”

The mountainous region of southwest China in Yunnan Province produces this special tea.

The custom with Pu-Erh is to pick new tea and drink old tea. This refers to a practice unique for Pu-Erh tea of aging it in storage to obtain the unique flavor. The tea leaves are stored in a pile where the natural enzymatic breakdown process of fermentation begins. This creates heat and cooks the leaves adding a highly-prized complexity, depth, and smoothness to the tea.

In addition, modern science has recognized Pu-Erh for its health benefits beyond black tea. “The Pharmacological Elements: Vitamins B1, B2, C, and E, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, lysine, arginine, histidine, and cystine, linoleic and linolenic acids and  trace amounts of zinc, sodium, nickel, iron, beryllium, sulfur, and fluorides.”

In 225 A.D., when China was divided into the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu, the prime minister of Shu led a military expedition to Yunnan.

Historical records reveal that many of the Shu troops came down with eye diseases. After they drank boiled Pu-Erh tea, it was reported that the troops were cured.

The leaves for this tea were from tea trees in Yunnan. Over time, tea drinking for health benefits became a tradition in other areas of China including Tibet.

There is an old saying in Tibet. “Better three days without food than a day without tea.” Historical records show that Tibetans started drinking tea during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) in 641.

Tibet does not grow tea trees, so the famous Tea Horse Road from Tibet to Yunnan was opened. Over the centuries, Tibet traded thousands of horses with China for tea.

In the early 19th century, Emperor Daoguang named Pu-Erh tea as a “Divine Tribute to the Kingdom of Heaven”.

Continued on September 27, 2017, in Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 5 of 5

September 23, 2017

As you have discovered, while many in the West have praised Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao as an accurate portrait of a manipulative egomaniac with little tolerance of dissent and a penchant for young women, the book was also criticized in China by those closest to Mao and by both eastern and western scholars of China.

In addition, some in the West have rejected or ignored what Dr. Li wrote about Mao and the famine during the Great Leap Forward. It’s as if, there are too many who only want the scandal, the rumors, the bad stuff.

According to the people that knew Mao best, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware that the situation that caused the great famine amounted to more than a slight shortage of food.

Li wrote, “But I do not think that when he spoke on July 2, 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation.”

While many in the West believe most of what Li wrote of Mao in his memoir, those same people do not accept what Li says about the famine because to do so would be to admit Mao wasn’t the butcher of twenty, thirty, forty or sixty million people (depending on who you read and want to believe) due to the famine and starvation during the Great Leap Forward.

This is known as cherry picking, which is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, confirmation bias, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict what you think.

Confirmation bias refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already think while ignoring evidence that proves their thinking was wrong. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when people base their beliefs on faith, tradition, and prejudice.  A perfect example is Fake President Donald Trump and his loyal supporters.

One example of confirmation bias is from Hong Kong-based historian Frank Dikotter’s book on the great famine where he claims that Mao was responsible for the famine and did nothing to save lives.

The point I want to make is if the West accepts the revised and sensationalized English version of Li’s memoir of Mao as accurate, how can anyone dispute what Li said about Mao not knowing the extent of the Great Leap Forward famine?  By 1959, Dr. Li had been Mao’s physician for almost three years and according to the doctor, he knew intimate details of Mao’s life at least during those few years during the famine.

On the other hand, if we accept that Dr. Li’s memory was wrong about Mao and the famine in 1959, how many other claims in his memoir of Mao are inaccurate?

In fact, Frank Dikotter sensationalized his book. the same as Random House did to Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao. by increasing the number of people that died by fifty percent to allow for possible under-reporting to come up with an unproven claim that 45-million died of starvation during the famine when in fact, the number of people that died may have been much lower.

Is it possible that Mao’s image outside of China has been unwittingly engineered by the western media to be worse than it should be?

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 4 of 5

September 22, 2017

In addition, Li cannot be credited with the English edition of his flawed memoir since the original manuscript written by Li was translated from his native Chinese into English by Professor Tai Hung-chao, before being edited by Thurston that Dr. Li later accused of cutting substantial parts of his original manuscript without his knowledge.

I was also told by a friend that read the Chinese language edition of the memoir that it reads as if it were an accountant’s ledger.

In addition, Professor Tai, the translator, alleged that the English-language publisher Random House wanted more sensationalist elements to the book than that which Li had provided them, in particular requesting more information about Mao’s sexual relationships.

Despite Li’s own protests, Professor Tai said Random House overruled him, and put fictional sexual claims in Dr. Li’s memoir anyway.

Then there is an Open Letter published in April 1995, a statement that said many of the claims made in Li’s memoir were false. One-hundred-and-fifty people that had personally known or worked with Mao signed that letter.

Then there is Professor Frederick Teiwes, a western academic specializing in the study of Maoist China, who was also critical of Li’s memoir. Professor Teiwes argued in his book The Tragedy of Lin Biao: Riding the Tiger during the Cultural Revolution 1966-1971 (1996) that despite Li’s extensive claims regarding the politics behind the Cultural Revolution, Dr. Li was actually “on the fringe” of the events taking place in the Chinese government.

Does that mean Dr. Li was a fraud, a liar, and that Random House helped make that fraud worse?

Continued in Part 5 on September 23, 2017 or return to Part 3

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 3 of 5

September 21, 2017

In 1994, a year before he died, Dr. Li Zhisui published his memoir of Mao, The Private Life of Chairman Mao.

Li based the book’s contents upon his own memories of Mao several decades after the actual events because he burned all of his personal diaries during the Cultural Revolution in case something he wrote about Mao might get him in trouble with the teenage Red Guard.

In 1988, Dr. Li left China for good with Lillian (his wife), who was suffering from kidney trouble and joined their sons, Chong and Erchong, and daughter-in-law Mei, near Chicago.

His decision to set down his account of Mao’s private life was not easy since he had destroyed the forty notebooks of his private diary during the Cultural Revolution almost thirty years earlier.

It wouldn’t be until after Dr. Li’s wife died of kidney failure in 1989, that he started writing his memoir. “In her last days in the hospital, before she slipped into a coma,” says Li, “she urged me to write this book …”

One of Li’s collaborators involved in editing and revisions of the memoir, the western historian Anne F. Thurston, noted that because of this, Dr. Li’s claims were “fallible” and might “be wrong”.

One of the many critics of Li’s memoir was Qi Benyu, a former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China that was connected with the left wing of the Cultural Revolution Group and the red-guard power seizures of 1967.

Qi had no reason to love Mao since he was arrested and imprisoned by Mao’s in 1968 and stayed in prison until 1986, a decade before Li wrote and published his memoir. Before prison, Qi spent several years near Mao and says he never heard any rumors of Mao having extra-marital affairs despite the fact that other senior Party members were known to have done this. Qi also said that most of the Cultural Revolution part of Li’s memoir consisted of information gleaned from newspapers, journals, and other people’s writings.

Continued on September 22, 2017, in Part 4 or return to Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 2 of 5

September 20, 2017

Eighty-nine percent of the Amazon reviews of Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao earned 4 and 5-star reviews giving the book a 4.5 out of 5-star average. Before reviewing the book, it would have helped if the readers knew more about Dr. Li’s life.

Dr. Li Zhisui (1919 – 1995), attended West China Union University in Chengdu now known as Sichuan University that’s one of the oldest in China.

Soon after graduating from the university as a Western trained medical doctor in his mid-twenties, Li fled China in the 1940s to escape the ravages and dangers of the war and he ended up working as a ship’s surgeon out of Sydney, Australia.

In 1949, The Lecturn reports, “Madly enthusiastic about the Communist victory in 1949, he gives up a promising young career in Australia to take part in the efforts to rebuild China after a century of warfare and internal struggle…”

Since Mao officially declared an end to the Cultural Revolution in 1969 [its active phase lasted until the death of the military leader Lin Bao in 1971], we may assume that Dr. Li returned to Beijing from the destitute village in Zhejiang Province and/or rural Jiangxi Province mentioned in Part 1 of this five part series, where the doctor was sent in 1965 as part of the Socialist Education Program.

By this time, Dr. Li may have become a bitter man as we discover when we read his opinions in Around the Bend With Mao Zedong.

“As Dr Li presented it, the Socialist Education Program amounted to an elaborate waste of time … given the disparity between the living standards of the city people and the poor-beyond-all-imagination villagers.”

Mao held power in China for twenty-seven years but Dr. Li spent only eight of those years with Mao (less than 34-percent). That does not sound like someone that was with Mao every day he was in power.

How do we know that Li did not become Mao’s doctor until 1957?

In 1995, two years before the British gave Hong Kong back to China, a Chinese language book was published in Hong Kong. It was called Lishi de Zhenshi: Mao Zedong Shenbian Gongzuo Renyuan de Zhengyan. Translated that means The Truth of History: Testimony of the personnel who had worked with Mao Zedong.

Three people who had known Mao personally wrote that book. One was his personal secretary Lin Ke. The second person was his personal doctor from 1953 to 1957, Xu Tao, and the third person was his chief nurse from 1953 to 1974, Wu Xujun.

The three authors argued in this Chinese language book that Dr. Li didn’t know Mao that well, and Li presented an inaccurate picture of Mao in his obviously flawed memoir. The trio attacked Li’s claim that he had been Mao’s personal physician in 1954 and presented copies of a document from Mao’s medical record showing that Li only took on the responsibility of caring for Mao on June 3, 1957.

Continued on September 21, 2017 in Part 3 or return to Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 1 of 5

September 19, 2017

On the Amazon page of The Private Life of Chairman Mao, it says, “From 1954 until Mao Zedong’s death 22 years later. Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler’s personal physician. For most of these years, Mao was in excellent health; thus he and the doctor had time to discuss political and personal matters. Dr. Li recorded many of these conversations in his diaries, as well as in his memory.”

The previous paragraph as you will discover if you finish reading this five-part series is not correct.

But first, let’s examine how accurate a memory is. According to Elizabeth Loftus, “Memory is imperfect. This is because we often do not see things accurately in the first place. But even if we take in a reasonably accurate picture of some experience, it does not necessarily stay perfectly intact in memory.”

Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the malleability of human memory. Loftus is best known for her ground-breaking work on the misinformation effect and eyewitness memory, and the creation and nature of false memories, including recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.

Loftus says, “Another force is at work. The memory traces can actually undergo distortion. With the passage of time, with proper motivation, with the introduction of special kinds of interfering facts, the memory traces seem sometimes to change or become transformed.

“These distortions can be quite frightening, for they can cause us to have memories of things that never happened. Even in the most intelligent among us is memory thus malleable.”

For an example of what professor Loftus is talking about, we learn about faulty memories from Amy Chua when she discussed the writing of her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

The Stamford Advocate reports, “The book was in many ways a family project. Rubenfeld, Chua’s husband, and their daughters read every draft and tried to reconcile their different memories. The final version reflects “four different sets of memories,” Chua said. “It was like family therapy.”

After reading about Dr. Li on his Amazon book’s page, it may come as a surprise to those that read Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao that Li was only one of Mao’s doctors. In addition, he wasn’t with Mao every day he was in power.

In fact, Dr. Li did not become Mao’s doctor until June 3, 1957, and Mao became the leader of China in 1949.

Then in 1965, according to  Around the Bend With Mao Zedong, eight years later, at the start of the Cultural Revolution, Dr Li was recruited into what was called the Socialist Education Program, and he was sent to a destitute village in Zhejiang Province.

In addition, in “Mao’s Last Revolution” by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, we discover that Dr Li was also living in rural Jiangxi Province, so maybe he spent time in both provinces during the ten year long Cultural Revolution that didn’t end until Mao died in 1976.

Continued on September 20, 2017 in Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Feminism Flourished in China almost Fourteen Hundred Years Ago

September 13, 2017

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia says Feminism is a social movement that seeks equal rights for women.

The dates Britannica throws out for the age of feminist are the Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention in the United States that called for full legal equality with men.

Merriam-Webster’s definition for feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.

For centuries Western women were treated as chattel, the property of men. History 120 says, “Most Americans treated married women according to the concept of coverture, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession. Any property she might hold before her marriage became her husband’s on her wedding day, and she had no legal right to appear in court, to sign contracts or to do business.”

Female Emperor Wu Zetian (625 to 705 AD) was a very early feminist who ruled the Tang Dynasty as an emperor and was China’s only woman emperor.

Women in World History says the Tang Dynasty was a time of relative freedom for women. Women would not bind their feet for a few more centuries or live submissive lives. It was a time in which a number of exceptional women contributed in the areas of China’s culture and politics.

Wu Zetian demanded the right of an emperor and kept male concubines. She also challenged Confucian beliefs against rule by women and started a campaign to elevate the position of women.

After watching the video and reading the entry in Britannica and the definition in Merriam-Webster, it’s obvious that feminism was alive and well in China more than a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty.

In fact, in the United States, It wasn’t until August 18, 1920, that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as woman suffrage. At the time the U.S. was founded, its female citizens did not share all of the same rights as men, including the right to vote.

After Wu Zetian, women lost the freedom she had given them, but it was returned in 1952 when Mao said women hold up half the sky meaning that women were equal to men.

Before Mao’s victory in 1949, Chinese women were considered of less value than animals. Not only were they actual slaves in their husband’s house, but they were bought and sold like merchandise. The poor and hired peasant women were traded with the land any time a landlord sold his property. Faced with failing crops, families were often forced to sell female infants and girls as concubines, child brides and servants to wealthy families in order for the rest of the family to survive the winter.

Another of Mao’s slogans said, “Any job a man can do, a woman can do.”

This marked the entrance of Chinese women into jobs that had formerly been forbidden to them – everything from crane operators to heart surgeons. The policies adopted by the people ensured equal pay for equal work. No longer do Chinese women do the same jobs as men and get paid half the wages for it.

However, in the U.S. the alleged land of the free with more people in prison than any other country on the planet, the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t passed.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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