Herbal Tea as the Protection for the Soldiers of Deng Shichang's Fleets

2017-08-31 09:55:56 GPHL GPHL

There were raging miasma and epidemic plague in ancient Lingnan region. People were accustomed to treating diseases through acupuncture, cupping and scraping, which many folk herbalists were skilled at.

Wang Zebang was born in Tianbian Village, Weidun Town, Heshan County, and his father was an herbalist. One day Zebang hugged a crying sick child and let his father pinch and pull the child's body to leave black and red bruises line upon line, and finally the boy were pinched beyond recognition. When little Zebang saw the scene, he felt unspeakable anxious to get the secret recipe for all the diseases, and he aspired to study medicine since then. Fortunately, he obtained the prescription of herbal tea from Taoist Lai Daozhen when he grew up, and he treated the prescription as a treasure.

Wang Zebang established "Uncle Ji Herbal Tea Shop" at Jingyuan Street in Guangzhou in 1828, concurrently engaged in medicine and treatment, using a big copper tripod to boil herbal tea for selling at the street. According to History of Medicine in Guangzhou Local Records , herbal tea shop was named after "Uncle Ji" because Wang Zebang came from Heshan County of Central Guangdong and his nickname was Aji.

The Thirteen-hong in Guangzhou were bustling at that time, with many dockmen, ricksha pullers, packmen and travelling merchants living nearby. Since people could drink a bowl of Uncle Ji herbal tea just in two cents for relieving heat and quelling thirst, it was so cheap and effective that the door to the shop was constantly crowded with consumers. So Guangzhou local residents hardly didn't know Wang Zebang and Wang Lao Ji from then on. Moreover, Deng Shichang, the Vice Admiral of Northern Navy, had been growing up with drinking Wang Lao Ji herbal tea and used Wang Lao Ji to protect his warship soldiers' health decades later.

When Northern Navy was established in 1888, Deng Shichang took up the post of the vice admiral in the main camp of the principle army and the captain of Zhiyuan Fleet. In order to improve battle effectiveness as soon as possible, he assiduously studied the theory of navy strategy and tactics, especially paying attention to learn the latest technology and experience of western navy, and required soldiers to practice very hard to make every action standard and correct. Furthermore, he treated soldiers as his children during the training and particularly cared about their health.


Deng Shichang ordered cooks to boil herbal tea for sweltering soldiers to resolve summer heat.

Deng Shichang led Zhiyuan Fleet toward the rising sun for the open water training in the morning of the summer in 1889. With the supplement of five recruits a couple of days ago, the warship for these new soldiers was just the place for watching according to the schedule. However, looking at energetic old soldiers' excellent training performances, these raw recruits were so excited that they conducted training carefully under the leadership of old soldiers.

Basically, the summer of Weihai in Shandong was not very hot, but it was different at the sea surface, especially on the deck hot like a burning pan even though it was scarcely noon. Therefore, When Deng Shichang ,born in Guangdong and skilled in training armies for decades, glimpsed several new recruits all sweat-drenched, pale and panting, he said: "it is heatstroke."

He arranged these sick soldiers to have a rest back in cabins, and immediately told the cook to give them Wang Lao Ji herbal tea prepared in advance. After a while, these soldiers gradually breathed smoothly.

Actually Deng Shichang had been growing up with drinking Wang Lao Ji herbal tea since his childhood in Guangzhou. Afterwards, when he worked on the fleet and he knew well the hardship of living at sea, he then equipped the warship with Wang Lao Ji herbal tea in any season, which he particularly asked someone to bring him from Guangzhou. No matter that he followed Ding Ruchang to receive Yangwei and Chaoyong Warships from British together with over 200 soldiers in November 1881, or he led the army again to take four warships including Zhiyuan, Jinyuan, Jingyuan and Laiyuan, from British back to China in the spring of 1887, he carried Wang Lao Ji purchased by persons who he specifically sent to Guangzhou for the herbal tea. He considered because they would pass intense heat Indian Ocean and the South Sea on the return journey, as well as they should seize the time to conduct navy training exercises, it is necessary to depend on Wang Lao Ji to protect soldiers' health. He won medals given by Royal Court twice for successfully taking warships back to China from British.

Hence, he made Zhiyuan Warship "sail like a horse, and the gun boom like a whistling arrows, which always can work effectively under any circumstances". Finally, His warship became one of principal force ships with professional training and the greatest fighting capacity in Northern Navy.