Thursday, April 09, 2009

Chinese Triad's secret tea language

My questions about how to hold a teapot led Teaparker to show me his first book, 'Ye Hu', written in 1985 about... Chinese Triads (mafia) in Taiwan. (Update: more specifically, it concerns the Hong Men and the Qing Bang triads only). There's a chapter about the secret way its members would drink tea. 

In times without Internet, telephone or even reliable mailing system, this was an ingenious way to test if an unknown visitor could speak their tea language and was one of them or not. 

In these 2 pictures, for example, I have set up the cups to test you. Imagine that the boss has just filled them and asks you to pick one. Which one will it be, if you want to tell him, without words, that you're one of them? (One or more answers are possible for each picture).  
Good luck! 

10 comments:

Kim said...

Oh, this is fun...

Well, I am sure a lot of readers would think the cup in front of the pot (first picture) or the cup in the center (second picture) are
the ones - they would leave the cirlce and symbol of unity intact.
But I think this it too obvious...
I will meditate about it :)...

Antoine said...

I would take the cup left to the (seducing) teapot in the first picture, and on the second picture any of the cups forming the square EXCEPT the four corners...

... and then fear for my life.


Don't ask me why I chose those, it's just a guess... :)

MaRong said...

I agree with Kim, I would have take the one in the middle each time...
Am I still alive...?

Aaron said...

This is facinating.

My first thought was the middle as well, but surly that is too obvious?

Elton said...

This is cool! I reckon because triad has something to do with triangles i would choose any of the corner cups in the second pic and none of the middle cups in the 1st pic to show you are part of the 'triangle'. Cool information!
Regards
ELton

Brittiny said...

Thanks for posting this... it is interesting stuff!! :)

I wasn't sure about the top picture, but the bottom picture, for my immediate thought, I would take the one in the middle to say that I am "in your circle."

However, I thought that was too obvious so I thought that in both pictures, I would take the cup that is the closest to me... depending on where the host has seated me.

Haha! I am interested to see the correct answer(s). :)

drumhum said...

Going by the films I've seen, any cup will do so long as you follow up your choice by stabbing yourself in the eye. Or cutting your little finger off. Then you should comment on how nice the tea is.

hoelk said...

the answer is obvious: i would take all cups. since it is the tea of a triad boss it must be damn good tea.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to drink tea with a mafia boss. I don't even watch the macho-styled mafia movies...

Stephane said...

For the first picture, any cup from the middle row (facing the teapot) would mean you are part of the gang.

For the second picture, only the cup in the middle shows you are an 'insider'!
Correct deductions Kim, MaRong and Aaron!