Lu Yu was a Chinese writer and poet who lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). He is best known for his book “The Classic of Tea,” which is considered to be the earliest and most influential treatise on the art of tea. This book, which was written around 760 AD, covers all aspects of tea, including its cultivation, processing, and preparation. It is still widely read and studied today and is considered one of the most important works on tea in Chinese history.
Table of Contents
Early Life and Career
Not much is known about Lu Yu’s early life, but it is believed that he was born in 733 AD in Tianmen, Hubei, China. He was abandoned at a young age and left at a temple. It’s said that the monk who raised him had a passion for tea, so inevitably, Lu Yu developed that same passion.
In his teenage years, Lu Yu became a monk and spent many years studying Buddhism and Chinese literature. He is also believed to have traveled extensively throughout China, learning about different types of tea and different methods of cultivation and preparation.
The Classic of Tea
Lu Yu’s masterpiece, “The Classic of Tea,” or “Ch’a Ching”, is divided into three sections: “The Origins of Tea,” “The Methods of Tea Preparation,” and “The Utensils of Tea.”
The book covers everything from the history and cultivation of tea to the ritual and etiquette surrounding its consumption.
Although it was originally published as ten chapters in three different volumes, The Classic of Tea was later consolidated into a single book.
In the first section, Lu Yu explains the different types of tea and their origins. He also provides detailed descriptions of the different regions where tea was grown and the methods used to cultivate it.
In the second section, Lu Yu describes the various methods of processing and preparing tea, including the use of different utensils and the importance of water quality. He also includes information on how to properly brew tea, as well as tips for selecting and storing tea leaves.
The third section of “The Classic of Tea” covers the various utensils used for tea preparation and consumption. Lu Yu provides detailed descriptions of the different types of teapots, cups, and bowls, and explains their use and symbolism. He also includes information on the etiquette and ritual surrounding tea drinking, stressing the importance of a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
New Book of Tang
The New Book of Tang is a historical record of the Tang dynasty, written by scholars during the Song dynasty. It includes a chapter on the biography of Lu Yu.
During the Tang dynasty, an imperial supervisor named Li Jiqing supervised the southeastern region. He knew of two great tea experts, Chang Boxiong and Lu Yu. When Li Jiqing visited Chang Boxiong, he showed respect by raising his teacup multiple times. But when Li Jiqing visited Lu Yu, who was dressed as a villager, Li Jiqing did not show the same level of respect and salute. Lu Yu was offended and wrote the book Hui Chalun, which discussed behaviors that could ruin tea culture.
The the popularity of Ch’a Ching and Hui Chalun helped tea culture gain recognition during the Tang dynasty.
Lu Yu’s “The Classic of Tea” was a major influence on tea culture in China, and it is still widely read and studied today. The book is considered one of the most important works on tea in Chinese history and is said to have established tea as an art form in China.
In addition to his work on tea, Lu Yu is also known for his poetry and his writings on Buddhism. He has been honored with numerous posthumous titles, including “The Sage of Tea” and “The Tea Saint”.
Lu Yu’s influence extended beyond China and had a significant impact on other cultures and their tea traditions as well.
The featured image at the beginning of this post is from the Nat Krause of WikiMedia.