Although tea originated in China, the Chinese know little
about it until 760 A. D. to 780 A. D. when Lu Yu wrote a
special treatise on the subject which elucidates the orgin,
function, distribution, collection and the way of drinking
tea. Prior to Lu Yu’s masterpiece——”The Treatise on
Tea” (Cha Jing), people could only link up the venerable art
of tea drinking from poems and legends. ”The Treatise on
Tea” made a deeper analysis and synthesis. Thus Lu Yu’s
writing marked the debut of scientific knowledge of tea which
has had a profound impact on history.
The Major Contributions of
”The Treatise on Tea”: The 7000 words treatise is composed
of three parts and ten sections. Part One: the first section
deals with the origin, the properties, the names and quality
of tea; the second introduces the functions and specifications
of the 15 kinds of appliances and tools for picking and
preparing tea leaves; the third discusses the ways for
selecting and picking tea leaves and their preparation. part
Two: the fourth lists the utensils for infusing and drinking
tea. part Three: the fifth mentions the ways of infusion, and
evaluates the quality of water of various places, the
fragrance and color of brewed tea; the sixth talks about the
custom and practices of tea drinking; the seventh tells the
related stories, origins and the curative effects of tea; the
eighth gives a critique on tea of various places; the ninth
suggests what kind of appliances and utensils can be
eliminated; the tenth teaches people to write the treatise on
wilk as mural tapestries.
The treatise epitomized the
preparation of tea and recorded the related materials and
historical documents in detail. It is the most exposition
which gives gives an account of the anther's personal
experience. Despite its age—old information which was
limited by the scientific conditions of the time, it is still
the best available reference for studying the art.
What the treatise
Tea quality varies with
The treatise concluded that
gravel produces top grade tea, while sand and clay give medium
and low grades respectively. It is relatively correspondent to
the results if the physical and chemical analyses on soil, as
well as the botanical response of tea. The treatise put forth
that slopes receive much more sunlight but arboreal lands
offer shady protection, Moreover, new shoots and rolled violet
leaves are better than buds and spread green leaves
respectively. It explains how the location of cultivation,
sunlight duration, temperature and humidity affect the shapes
and qualities of tea leaves. Such a systematize record is
certainly a good reference for modern tea planters.
The treatise believed that tea
plants could not be transplanted. In the past, this was
correct. Nowadays, with better facilities and advanced
technology, cottage and asexual reproduction of plant cells
have proved successful, These methods brought forth by modern
science are able to upgrade and stabilize the quality of tea
The tools and utensils adopted
could fall into7 categories which implied the 7 steps of
picking and preparing tea:
The treatise portrayed the
tools and utensils used in the 7 steps (to pick, steam, pound,
crush, bake, string and store ) to the fullest detail. Only
experience can work it out.
To appreciate and appraise tea
by its properties instead of appearance:
Because of the complicated
processing, different varieties produce different shapes of
tea leaves. In order to grade tea, the outward appearance of
tea leaves and the scent and color of the tea brewed must be
taken into consideration.
The treatise fully described
the ways of infusion and drinking:
From today’s point of view,
some ways are too fancy and mysterious. Some are even too
harsh to follow. Nevertheless, it carefully studied the use of
water sources. indicating that mountain streams are the best
while water from a river is preferable to water from a well.
The treatise suggested that, to make a cup of well—brewed
tea, the water cannot be boiled for too long. Seasoning and
tea leaves added must be in proportion to the water boiled.
Excess water is inadvisable. Such advice is valuable even
The treatise confirmed the
medical value of tea and that tea drinking is beneficial to
the human body:
As modern science develops, the
elements contained in tea leaves, which are found to have
positive effects on the human body, are discovered.
The treatise made a thorough
narration on China’s tea producing regions:
China’s tea producing
provinces include Hubei, Hunan, Henan, Anhui, Zhejiang, jianxi,
Fujian, Sichuan, Guizhou Guangdong and Guanxi. Among them,
there are 42 famous regions which produce tea of note.
Certainly, Lu Yu’s work is a precious historical document on
China’s tea history.
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