Digging and drinking don’t seem very compatible, but if you’re an archeologist digging in the dirt has an entirely different meaning. In 1972 a group of very fortunate Chinese archeologists were digging and uncovered one of the greatest finds in Chinese history, the Mawangdui Han Tombs dating back to the Han Dynasty dated 220 BCE to 220 AC. These tombs are one of China's most important archaeological discoveries.
One of thousands of artifacts recovered from these tombs was a book titled “52 Prescriptions". In this book more than 30 wine recipes were recorded. But not just any wine, medicated wines, formulated for both internal and external use to treat illnesses like ulcers, snake bits, skin problems and of course longevity and sexual stamina. Wine was a common beverage for the aristocrats of the time and two top priorities were living longer and greater sexual prowess.
Some wines were called tonic wines, many are still used today to preserve health and increase longevity. The wines were made by mixing certain medicinal herbs and leaving them to soak or brew for some period of time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or longer. I’ve never tried to make medicinal wines but I do keep a private stock of ginseng roots soaking in a premium vodka. It makes the ultimate martini.
Whether it’s wine or tea, both use the same principal of soaking or cooking Chinese herbs in a liquid, be it water or wine, to release the healthly consitutients of the herbs. So drink up and enjoy the health benefits of Chinese medicine, truly rooted in 2000 year old books like “52 Prescriptions”.