Monday, 25 November 2013

The story of Lu Yu, the Tea Master

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        During the Tang Dynasty, a newborn baby boy was abandoned by his parents at the river bank in Jingling, Fuzhou. His cries alerted a monk at the nearby Longgai Temple. The monk adopted the child and named him Lu Yu. Lu Yu was often bullied at the temple. When he finally couldn’t take the bullying anymore, he ran away. During his wandering days, he once acted as a comedian.
        However, he never forgot to study no matter how tough life got, and learnt a great deal through self-study. He befriended many of the scholars of his time, and met up with them frequently for tea and poetry sessions. It was during one of these sessions that one of the scholars suggested that he wrote a book on tea, given how much he loved it. Lu Yu thought it was a great idea to introduce the joy of drinking tea to more people.
        And so, Lu Yu began his journey all across the country to study the tea and water of various regions. He searched high and low, and traveled deep into the forest to seek out all the existing kinds of tea. After his long search, he retreated to Tiaoxi (aka northwest of Zhejiang) to concentrate on writing his book. When the government heard about him, they offered him a position as an official. However, Lu Yu already had his heart set on writing his book, and turned down the offer.
        After years of studying, he finally completed the Tea Classic, the world’s first treatise on tea. The book had detailed accounts on how to grow, prepare and drink tea; the varieties of tea and tea utensils; the quality of water used for brewing, as well as the customs of drinking tea. It had a far-reaching influence on the development of tea culture, elevating tea drinking into a specialized art.

        The classic also made Lu Yu the patron saint of tea merchants, who often decorated their desktops with porcelain statues of the Tea Master. When business was slow, the vendors would pour boiling water into the hole of the figure’s head, a ritual that was believed to improve business.

No comments:

Post a Comment