Chinese tea culture. The origin of the “tea” character, the earliest in the Chinese “Shennong Materia medica” book, is the world’s oldest and first medicine book. According to relevant experts, the book is from the Warring States Period (5 BC – 221 BC).
Around 758 AD, Lu Yu of the Tang Dynasty, the first master of tea, wrote the world’s earliest treatise on tea, The Classic of Tea, which systematically and comprehensively discussed the methods and experience of tea planting, tea making, tea drinking, and tea evaluation. According to Lu Yu’s “The Book of Tea,” our discovery of tea and use of tea has so far been more than 4,700 years of history.
In the Western Zhou Dynasty, tea was used as a sacrifice. Fresh tea leaves were eaten as vegetables in the Spring and Autumn Periods. In the Warring States Period, tea was used as medicine. Buddhism was prevalent for more than three hundred years. From The Three Kingdoms to the Southern and Northern Dynasties, especially during the Southern and Northern Dynasties.
The Buddhists used tea to relieve the doze of meditation, so tea was widely planted in the valleys near the temples and temples. Tea drinking promoted Buddhism, which promoted the development of tea stoves, the source of the famous “tea Buddha blindly” in history. It was in the Tang Dynasty that tea became a popular baverage.
Tea has been a bond of friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people since ancient times. In the Tang Dynasty, the Japanese monk Shucheng came to China to study Buddhism at the Guoqing Temple in Tiantai Mountain, Zhejiang Province.
When he returned to China, he brought back tea seeds and planted them in Hezi Prefecture (the present Ikeshang Tea Garden), which spread to the central and southern parts of Japan. In the Southern Song Dynasty, Zen Master Rongxi from Japan came to China twice, visiting Tiantai, Siming, Tiantong, and other places.
Emperor Xiaozong of Song gave him the title of “Master of Thousands of Lights.” Master Rongxi Shan had profound attainments of Buddhism and studied Chinese tea. He also wrote the book “Health Preservation Records of Eating Tea”. Which the Japanese people respected as the ancestor of tea.
In the year of the opening ceremony of the Southern Song Dynasty, Japanese Buddhist monks came to Zhejiang Runshan Temple to study Buddhism. When they returned home, they brought “tea props” and a “tea table” from the Temple. The “tea banquet” and “Matcha” method of the Temple spread to Japan. Which inspired and promoted the rise of the Japanese tea ceremony.
In the Song Dynasty, Arab merchants settled in Quanzhou, Fujian, to sell tea. When Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty went to the Western seas, tea was also sold to Southeast Asia and southern Africa. In the late Ming Dynasty, in 1610, Dutch merchant ships first transported tea from Macao to Europe, opening the door for Chinese tea to be sold to both sides.
The earliest record of teahouses in China can be traced back to Feng Yan’s Record of the Feng Family’s Appreciation, in the Kaiyuan period of the Tang Dynasty. It says that “from the Zou, Qi, Cang and Li Dynasties to Jingyi. Many shops opened in the cities to cook tea and sell it. After the Tang and Song Dynasties, many places set up tea houses to sell tea. In the Qing Dynasty, folk art entered the teahouse, a place for cultural entertainment and rest.
Fun Fact about Tea
The largest teahouse in China was the “Huahua Teahouse” in Sichuan, with three halls and four courtyards. The teahouse in Chengdu has a large chair with a back. Making it very comfortable to drink tea, chat or take a nap.
Chinese people have always had the habit of “guest tea”. Which fully reflects the civilization and courtesy of the Chinese nation. Ancient Qi Shizu, Lu Na, and others once advocated tea instead of wine. Liu Zhenjiang in the Tang Dynasty praised “tea” has ten virtues. In addition to fitness, tea can also “show respect to tea,” “tea can be elegant heart,” and “tea can be a road.”
During the Tang and Song dynasties, many literati such as Bai Juyi, Li Bai, Liu Zongyuan, Liu Yuxi, PI Rixiu, Wei Yingwu, Wen Tingyun, Lu You, Ouyang Xiu, Su Dongpo, etc., were not only fond of drinking tea, but also praised and described tea in their excellent works.