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Again Samuell enters the OED:[for this day's entry] tis an interesting drink?
. The thick fleshy root-stock of a shrubby climbing plant (Smilax China L.) closely akin to Sarsaparilla, and once supposed to possess great medicinal virtues. a. China root.
3. Comb., as China-ale, ale flavoured with China-root, whence China-alehouse; China-broth, broth made with China-root.
1659 NEWTON in Brewster Life i. 18 Otiose et frustra expensa, sherbet and reaskes, *China ale, Beere.
1662-3 PEPYS 17 Jan., Thence with him to the *China ale-house.
1621 BURTON Anat. Mel. I. ii. II. ii. (1651) 75 A dyet drink in the morning, Cock-broth, China-broth.
1633 Gerard's Herbal App. xxv, China..to cure the French Pox.
1713 Lond. & Country Brew. III. (1743) 193 To make China-Ale. To six Gallons of Ale take lb. or more of China-root thin sliced, etc.
1609 B. JONSON Sil. Wom. I. iii. (1616) 536 To watch when ladies are gone to the *China houses, or the Exchange.
1730 J. MILLER Humours Oxford II, For the evening, that noon of pleasure, operas, masquerade, assemblies, china-houses, play-houses.
Spellings:, in the sense of ‘porcelain’, ‘china-ware’. From India this form and use of the word was prob. introduced in the 17th c. into England, whence the spellings 17th c. chiney, cheny, cheney, chenea, mod. dial. chainy, chaney, chany, chaynee, chayney, cheenie, cheeny, and the fashionable pronunciation of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, ( e ) (see Walker), which with ( i ), still survives in the dialects.]