When China Invented Sunglasses & Baijiu

 

They say that in the year 1200, China invented sunglasses. Documents seem to indicate that the first sunglasses were worn in July, when the sun bore down the hardest. The first sunglasses wearers may have actually been judges: they were given smoke colored quartz lenses to wear over their faces in order to conceal their emotions while questioning witnesses.

quartz chinese judge sunglasses 1200

Now, I know what you’re thinking. A poor judge, sitting under the hot July sun, wearing uncomfortable quartz glasses while trying to decide whether or not someone is guilty of something. Quick, somebody get this man a DRINK!

The question is, what drink would you offer a Chinese judge? Look no further than Baijiu, perhaps one of the most interesting beverages in the world. Baijiu has been around China for over 5000 years, and is unique in the sense that it is considered to be a wine, but is available more generally as a strong distilled spirit. It tastes as strong as vodka, and is produced in upwards of 50% alcohol.

I’m no lawyer, but a cold Baijiu sounds like the perfect drink for a judge on a hot summer day – he gets to cool off and get a pretty decent buzz.

honey baijiu chinese alcoholic drink in tumblrThis Chinese alcoholic beverage has been traditionally referred to as white wine or rice wine, and is made from grains. Baijiu literally means “white liquor”. Baijiu is usually sold in ceramic or glass bottles. It seems that it used to be consumed in small, tumbler-like cups, but lately is drunk from shot glasses. It is also often consumed with food rather than on its own.

The interesting thing about Baijiu is that it is classified according to fragrance, which is a unique classifier for a beverage. And because Baijiu has such distinct fragrances, fans and experts really enjoy grouping them as such:

 

  • Sauce – It tastes similar to Chinese fermented bean pastes and soy sauce. It is said to go well with fine and pickled foods.
  • Thick – Sweet tasting, oily, and mellow, with a long lasting fragrance.
  • Light – Delicate and dry, with a cleansing like taste to one’s mouth.
  • Rice – This is the most traditional type of Baijiu, distilled from rice and has a long lasting aromatic flavor to it.
  • Honey – Very subtle flavor, sweet and tastes like honey.
  • Layered – These are very thick and saucy, therefore have different flavors and aromas.

You’re probably wondering “we’ve got 6 Baijius to choose from, which should we give to the judge sitting in the sun with his quartz shades on?”

The answer is most likely the Rice fragrance. This is because this is the most traditional of them all, and because it is distilled from Rice, probably also offers some nutritional value to whomever is drinking it. And if I were to recommend a flask for the judge, I’d say to go with a flask with rhinestones – this way we can match the shine from his dope quartz sunglasses.

Check out our alcohol resources section for more fun and interesting history lessons.

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