The Story of Tea and Salt


A long time ago, there was a river in Mi Yao Di Fang (old name of Muya), and the river water was as white ...

A long time ago, there was a river in Mi Yao Di Fang (old name of Muya), and the river water was as white and sweet as milk. The river was surrounded by densely wooded mountains on both sides, and the grass on the hillsides were rich and good enough for the flocks and herds. A young man and woman brought their sheep and cattle to graze on the river banks, and they were named Badeng and Mimicuo respectively. They saw each other cross the river every day, and sang songs to express their love.

The tribal chief found out about love situation of Badeng and Mimicuo, who then threw Mimicuo into the local prison. Mimicuo would not stop crying until she couldn’t produce any more tears, and died in the prison. Her body was thrown onto a hillside, and the kind-hearted locals secretly cremated and buried her. The tribal leader also dispatched his men to kill Badeng by shooting a poisonous arrow at him, and then they threw his body into the river. However, the soul of Badeng still loved Mimicuo, and his body floated to the riverbank and stopped by the spot where Mimicuo used to sing songs. The kind-hearted locals got his body out of the water, cremated his body, and buried his ashes with Mimicuo’s on the hillside, allowing them to stay together forever.

The year after, two trees grew out of the place where they were buried, holding each other tightly with lush branches and leaves, which reminded the people of their perpetual love before they died. The tribal leader learned of this news again, and dispatched his men to cut down the two trees. The roots of the two trees were even dug out and burned.

The kind-hearted locals sat down around a bonfire to silently pray for them. Suddenly, a pair of birds flattered their wings out of the fire, flying to the west. The living Buddha said that one bird flew to the grassland in the north of Tibet, turning into white salt; and the other bird flew to the south of Tibet, turning into a tea tree. The locals wanted to make the two unfortunate young lovers live together forever, and used salt and tea to make their butter tea to drink day and night.

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