I have seen brown jars with twigs in that appear to come from some unexplainable plant life. These twigs are soaking in the last remnants of some languid watery substances. I have seen these jars sitting on peoples desks as normal as a pen and paper would be. Every now and again the liquid increase in volume and then the next time you pass the desk it has decreased again.
I have seen some jars that contain a lightly stained yellow brown liquid that resembles the liquid that would be in a jar after it had been used for stubbing out cigarettes. It is as if the jar has just been removed from the smokers’ room where it had been used as an ashtray. Some poor addicted sole is now consuming the strained nicotine to get a liquid dose of their poison. You might argue that this is just stronger tea, and you could be correct in the assumption, but I have seen the consumers and I tend to disagree.
Cab drivers often have jars which they store in the consol by the gear stick and handbrake leaver. I saw a cabby with his coffee jar full of a white milky looking substance. Perhaps it was either watered down milk or a soy drink. The contents of this jar only go to confuse the issue of the substance that is retained and drunk from the glass jar.
I am surprised a major chain such as Starbucks or Mac Donald’s hasn’t picked on the glass jar as a promotional artefact. Imagine getting your Starbucks in a Starbucks special one off coffee jar. This could be sold with or without the coffee; it could be the most expensive water receptacle yet and spark yet another cultural revolution. I am sure this would catch the eye of the kids in China and bring a new generation into carrying on the ancient Chinese tradition of using a coffee jar as a receptacle to drink from.
The mystery of the jar continues to fascinate me, I have seen them withdrawn from under the counter for a sly sip by the checkout girl at the supermarket, I have seen them sitting next to the jade carver as she delicately works a piece of green stone in a constant stream of freezing water. At first I thought she was using the liquid in this jar to thaw her fingers out until she took a sip of the contents. I have seen a lovely blue jar come out from below the desk at customs in Beijing airport and the lovely customs lady took a sly sip and slipped it back under the counter before she checked the immigration status of another foreigner.
I have put forward some ideas and theories on the Chinese tradition in the use of the personal coffee jar and the contents of the jar. However none of my answers are satisfactory in my view as soon as I think I have an answer, like true Chinese culture a new piece comes to the puzzle that doesn’t fit the previous pieces and we have to start our thought process all over again. For instances why is China not selling these jars to the world as a souvenir?
China is a country that boasts over three thousand years of culture and it maybe another three thousand years before we in the west uncover the wisdom and pleasure of owning our own glass jar.