Two days later, Li Yuanying welcomed Su Dalang who was in charge of tea affairs in the South region.
News still spread rather slowly in ancient times. The popularity of tea in the North has not reached the South yet. The only difference is that merchants from the North are now travelling South to procure tea one after another. Su Dalang seized this opportunity and obeyed Li Yuanying’s orders to buy all mountainous lands that could potentially produce good tea harvest on both the East and West sides of the Yangtze River.
The spring tea harvest has been great. To facilitate easy transportation, tea were rolled into balls in addition to tea powder for better storage. Workers under Su Dalang also invented a new method of roasting tea which can be used on inferior tea leaves.
This roasting method is much more convenient than the original method as it takes less effort and is easier to preserve. What’s even more surprising is that tea brewed from this roasting method is pleasant and clear, giving it a unique taste. It taste quite different from the initial batch but both versions has it’s own uniqueness.
Su Dalang wrote to Yuanying about this two months ago. In return, the young prince instructed that the person who invented this be rewarded handsomely and to expedite a new batch so that they can promote it while the spring harvest is in abundance. By end May, this year’s quota of “Thousand Gold Tea” is being shipped off to Luoyang and Chang’an one after another.
Mei Niang was in charged of handling the business in Chang’an. She per-arrange plans with businessmen and monks and systematically deployed men to bring tea into the Tibetan Empire and Tuyuhun along an established route.
As for Luoyang, Li Yuanying arranged a serious meeting with Su Dalang to brief him about the importance of tea trading.
This entire year has been smooth sailing for Su Dalang. It was so smooth that he could walk with his head held high, a completely different person from his previous hard days of running around selling tea.
Hearing the young prince personally explaining about the tea trade and the prospects of selling tea to various foreign tribes, Su Dalang was very enthusiastic.
“I am willing to work hard for Your Highness! There are many things that your humble servant cannot do but taking good care of these tea mountains I am capable of.”
Li Yuanying has already entrusted the matter to Su Dalang so he naturally wouldn’t treat him badly.
“If you have sons or nephews, send them to Chang’an. I will find jobs for them, so that their children can participate in the imperial examination in the future.”
Su Dalang was overjoyed. There was a clear distinction between social class and ranks in the Tang law. In which, children of craftsmen and merchants were not allowed to take the imperial examination or marry out of their ranks. If Prince Teng is now making an exception for him, this means that the Su family will move up the ranks and escape from the stigma of being from the merchant class.
Since the beginning of time, it has always been everyone’s hope that their descendants are able to break the glass ceiling and excel in life.
“The tea business might be difficult in the initial phase but don’t be impatient. After a year or two, you will see the benefits of this trade.”
Su Dalang nodded. He paused before making a request hesitantly.
“This humble servant has a god sister with a difficult situation. Qiniang is growing older and if she continues to reside in Wancui mansion, she will inevitably live the same lowly life and be trapped in this viscous cycle forever. Your Highness, you have met Qiniang. With her looks and intelligence, she would have settled down peacefully if only she was born in an ordinary family. My god-sister is always worried that the weak and meek girl will have nowhere to go if she leaves the Mansion. But now that I have the opportunity to bring my children to the capital, I would like to make her my foster daughter and get her a place to live together. Would your Highness be willing to help Qiniang change her status?”
Li Yuanying readily agreed: “This is nothing difficult. I’ll get someone to do this discreetly and send her to the house you bought in advance.”
Su Dalang thanked the Lord happily.
Li Yuanying ran trough all items related to the tea business and then asked Dai Ting to note down Su Qiniang’s problem. He will immediately help her after returning to the Capital City.
Back at the palace, Li Yuanying got to know from Li Zhi that the Emperor’s wishes were denied by his ministers again. Wei Zheng and Chu Suiliang took turns admonishing His Majesty about not visiting Mount Tai next year. As a result the Emperor was moody and had no appetite.
Although everyone was already anticipating that this topic will be brought up repeatedly, Li Er still had to react in anger if he needed to. Since becoming Emperor, he has been diligent in ruling the country, working almost all year round with no rest. The only exception is when he travels away to avoid the summer heat. But every time Feng and Shan gets mentioned, his ministers strongly opposes it. Could it be that in their eyes, he is a weak Emperor that was not worthy of performing this ritual? Does everyone really believe that all divine punishment is directed at him?
At first, Li Er didn’t care much about this topic. But after being repeatedly harassed by Wei Zheng and Chu Suiliang, he got more and more furious to the point that he had no appetite for food.
Li Yuanying heard about this and ran to him excitedly hoping to see how furious his brother can be. His intention to gloat was so obvious that Li Er threw an ink stone at him. He quickly ran away.
After returning, he confirms his observation with Li Zhi: “You are right, your father is indeed very angry.”
“And yet you still went when you know about that!” (Li Zhi)
“All man feels seven emotions and six desires, it is normal for the Emperor to be angry. There is no need to make a fuss over it.” (Li Yuanying)
“Didn’t you say that father should take care of his body and keep his anger at bay?” Li Zhi said dejectedly, still traumatized by the previous incident of father falling ill.
“It seems that the knowledge your teachers gave you from the <<Book of Filial Piety>> is put to good used. You are indeed quite filial.” (Li Yuanying)
His Majesty once requested that Xiao Deyan teach this book to Li Zhi with much success. However at that time, Li Yuanying only cared about playing and never bothered meeting Xiao Deyan for lessons. Yuanying pondered and then gave Li Zhi an idea.
“Since you want to help Brother, here’s an idea.” (Li Yuanying)
“What idea?” (Li Zhi)
“As far as I know, this theory about disasters and abnormalities was not popular before Han Dynasty. But were natural disasters really absent before the Han Dynasty?” (Li Yuanying)
Li Zhi processed those words and put forward his own: “You mean we need to overthrow the validity of this theory?”
Li Yuanying gave him an expression that hinted at him being a “good child that can be easily taught”.
“Before the Han Dynasty, disasters were rarely associated with Kings and the government but they still had wise rulers who brought peace and prosperity to their people. Since the Han Dynasty, many would often interpret warnings from the skies as divine signs but that hasn’t help them keep their country and legacy forever. Of course, if you want to argue that their failure was due to not taking these warnings seriously then I have no way of winning this argument. My point of view is that, these are all man-made theory and forced fed to the heavens as divine warnings. Think about it, if there is severe drought in the North but amazing harvest in the South, then is the heavens satisfied or dissatisfied? If we take the harvest from the South to help the North, then does this mean the impact is evened out? (Li Yuanying)
Li Zhi felt that young uncle’s ideas were too deviant. It has completely overturned all his previous knowledge and values.
“Although what you said is reasonable, others will not agree with you.” (Li Zhi)
“If they don’t agree, then we will just need to use facts and logic to convince them. Didn’t Xiao Li say that he has checked all available records about this comet? You just need to request for those articles and go through them to identify if a pattern exist in it. Let’s see if in any particular year a ruler didn’t do this or that and what results had been recorded. This way we can guess if this comet is indeed bad omen. Even if this is a useless task, you can still write an article and submit it to your royal father to make him happy!”
Notes from the author:
Little Prince: It’s a close call! ! ! ! !