Friday, September 19, 2008

The Classic of Tea

The Classic of Tea is the very first monograph on tea in the world, written by writer Lu Yu between 760 CE and 780 CE .
According to popular legend, Lu Yu was an orphan of Jinling county who was adopted by a Buddhist monk of the Dragon Cloud Monastery. He refused to take up the monastic robes and was assigned menial jobs by his stepfather. Lu Yu ran away and joined the circus as a clown. At age 14, Lu Yu was discovered by the local governor Li Qiwu who offered Lu Yu the use of his library and the opportunity to study with a teacher. During the An Lushan and Shi Siming rebellion period, Lu Yu retired to Shaoqi . During this period, Lu Yu made friends with many literati, including the calligrapher Yan Zhenqing and the poet Huang Pu Zheng and wrote his magnum opus: ''Chá jīng''.

For Lu Yu, tea symbolized the harmony and mysterious unity of the Universe. "He invested the ''Chá jīng'' with the concept that dominated the religious thought of his age, whether , , or : to see in the particular an expression of the universal" .

Huang Pu Zheng's poem about Lu Yu

Saw Lu Yu off to Pick Tea

''Thousand mountains greeted my departing friend''

''When spring tea blossoming again''

''With indepth knowledge in picking tea''

''Through morning mist or crimson evening clouds''

''His solitary journey is my envy''

''Rendezvous in a temple of a remote mountain''

''We enjoyed picnic by a clear pebble fountain''

''In this silent nigh''t

''Lit up a candle light''

''I knocked a marble bell for chime''

''While deep in thought for old time.''

Content of Chá jīng

Lu Yu's ''Chá jīng'' was the earliest treatise on tea in the world.
The Ch'a Ching is divided into the following 10 chapters:

* Chapter 1. Origin
:This chapter expounds the origins of tea in China. It also contains a description of the tea plant and its proper planting as well as some speculation.
* Chapter 2. Tea Tools
:This chapter describes fifteen tools for picking, steaming, pressing, drying and storage of tea leaves and cake.
* Chapter 3. Manufacture
:This chapter details the recommended procedures for the production of tea cake.
* Chapter 4. Tea Wares
:This chapter describes twenty eight items used in the brewing and drinking of tea.
* Chapter 5. Brewing
:This chapter enumerates the guidelines for the proper preparation of tea.
* Chapter 6. Drinking Tea
:This chapter describes the various properties of tea, the history of tea drinking and the various types of tea known in 5th century China.
* Chapter 7. Anecdotes
:This chapter gives various anecdotes about the history of tea in Chinese records, from Shennong through the Tang dynasty.
* Chapter 8. Places
:This chapter ranks the eight tea producing regions in China.
* Chapter 9. Omission
:This chapter lists those procedures that may be omitted and under what circumstances.
* Chapter 10. Diagrams
:This chapter consists of four silk scrolls that provide an abbreviated version of the previous nine chapters.

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