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Puppet That Serves Tea

Room puppets were expensive toys of feudal lords and influential merchants during the Edo period. The tea-serving doll was designed to bring tea to an amazed guest. It was used more as a ploy to break the ice and get the conversation going, rather than to actually serve tea.

The host places a tea cup on the tray held by the doll, which activates its mechanism to move it forward. It stops when the guest picks up the tea cup, lifting the weight from the tray. When the cup is placed back on the tray, the doll turns around and walks back to its original position.

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Interesting Myths

I grew up with a childhood filled with Aesop, Brothers Grimm, and Disney. I faintly knew the stories and fables of a country hundreds of years old, China. I was familiar with the festivals and names of a handful of tales: Moon Cake Festival, The Water Margin, The Monkey King, but not knowing the full story nor the significance to the Chinese culture.

As I was trying to explore these myths, I found that there was a lack of storytelling on the Net. So I'm presenting these stories for you to enjoy, like a fresh cup of tea: full of flavor and distinctiveness.

Tea Monkeys
Who is the Lady on the Box of Mooncakes?

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Legends of the origin of tea go as far back as 2700 BC

It is said that a Chinese emperor was sitting under a tree when leaves fell into the pot of water he was boiling. He drank the water and found, to his surprise, that it made him feel uplifted and revitalized. He concluded that the leaves had caused this and so brought some back for further experimentation. This small incident triggered the beginning of tea drinking in China and in the world.

According to another legend, tea was discovered by a poor woodcutter who was chopping trees in the hills when he saw several monkeys plucking leaves off a tree and chewing them. He tasted some of the leaves, liked it and brought some back to the village. He told others of his discovery and soon, everyone was adding leaves from the tree to their drinks.

From ancient times to today, tea has been an indispensable part of the life of a Chinese. A Chinese saying identifies the seven basic daily necessities as fuel, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea. The custom of drinking tea is deeply ingrained in almost all Chinese and has been for over a thousand years. During the mid-Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), a man named Lu Yu entered the Buddhist monkhood early in life but returned when older, to secular life. He was later best known for summarizing the knowledge and experience of his predecessors and contemporaries into the first compendium in the world on tea--the Tea Classic (Cha Jing). This work helped to popularize the art of tea drinking all across China, making avid tea drinkers of everyone from emperor and minister to street hawker and soldier. Even neighboring countries--Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia came to adopt the tea drinking custom

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