Tea, just my cup of

The most well-know of the Chinese green teas is Longjing from the province of Hangzhou, which means dragon well. Fake Longjing is apparently very common, with most tea on the market coming from Sichuan province.

Green tea has many unproven claims, from reducing the negative effects of cholesterol to stopping neurodegenerative diseases to weight loss. With little to no scientific validation to speak of, the boxes tumble off grocery store shelves and into shopping carts like unsecured rubble in a light tremblor. Maybe because it’s just good, especially the caffeinated versions. Some even prefer brands blended with Kombucha, the immortal health elixir from the Qin Dynasty – whose health effects I likely neutralize by adding soy milk. But… delicious.

In the Sexagenary cycle, there are ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches. The year 1984 began the present 60-year cycle. This traditional calendrical system is used for numbering days and months across Asia. Calendars are also referred to as time-reckoning systems, and certain of their aspects in different countries ebb and flow with the rise and fall of political power. Tibet, for example

became subject to a new centralised administration under the Mongol Emperor, Qublai Khan (1215-1294CE) which involved numerous reforms in Tibet including that of the road, ranking and postal system.

It also meant the reform of the calendar. Chogyal Phagpa of the Sakya sect held authority at the time over the administrative sections of Tibet’s “three regions” (Tib: chol kha gsum) and its 13 myriarchies (Tib: khri skor bcu gsum).

He oversaw what was the increased centralisation of Tibet, fulfilling the need for a unifying framework but allowing for local difference as part of the political design. Phagpa’s vision was essentially imperial in character and he was also responsible for the design of the reformed Tibetan calendar.

Phagpa’s task vis-à-vis the design of the new Sakya-Yuan calendar was challenging. Buddhism had been declared the state religion of the Mongolian empire which carried with it the Kalachakra calendar. At the same time the Mongol Empire also presided over China which had its own time-reckoning system. Up to this point, the Tibetan calendar had been largely derived of Chinese time-reckoning systems but also operated in the cultural milieu of Indian time-reckoning systems, not including the Kalachakra calendar.

Also, the Sakya-Yuan calendar’s year-beginnings continued according to the Chinese calendar, as had been the case in the previous Tibetan calendar. The latter’s first lunar month was named drug (dragon) based on the Chinese calendar’s 12 lunar months which were named according to the Chinese calendar’s 12 Earthly Branches commencing from the winter solstice. Drug was the Chinese calendar’s fifth Earthly Branch, chen (dragon) and third lunar month: the latter coincided with the time of Tibetan New Year set by the sidereal zodiac.

And some would say it’s only December 1. Now, time for another cup.