Discover & Using Tea
(1)Its Etymological Review
In the prehistoric time, nothing ever invented that could be recognized by the later mankind as words. For intercommunication, vocal utterance was used only. The thing tea made its premier appearance as recorded in the first book of words, Er Ya, wherein it gave a definition: “Jia, a bitter plant.” The alleged author of Er Ya made this definition on circa 1115 B.C. This was more than three thousand years ago. The word in Chinese Han language is 价, Pronounced JIA.
China did not have unified characters and dialects before Qin Dynasty had unified the entire territory. Therefore the words representing this commodity were many. Many forms in calligraphy also contributed to the confusion. According to the Tea Classic, even later in Tang Dynasty there were many names representing “tea”. There were , 其名一曰茶（荼Cha2,tu2）二曰槚(jia3)三曰蔎（she4)四曰茗（ming2）五曰荈（chuan3）in addition to the one given in Er Ya, the 价，But the sound was fortunate than written form to have been simplified, thanks to the marketing activities, In the daily transactions through a long period the name of tea gradually drifted into a uniformed sound — cha. The written form followed suit was simplified to 荼, but before c. 750 A .D., this word荼contained more than one meaning — is mean at the same time three plants: a. tea as a beverage b. bitter vegetable c. the white flower from a kind of weed. As to its pronouncing, it had another sound, te, beside the generally acknowledged sound “cha” .Down to the time of the Three Kingdoms(c. 220 A.D.),the sound cha established its due position. In Tea Classic, the author presented that for easy writing, one small bar (horizontal stroke) was omitted from the original double bar form 荼. It stabilized to the form as we know tit now. This one-bar-minus form was first formed in “Kai Yuan Dictionary of Pronunciation and Meaning”, a dictionary published 1300 years ago. To analyze, all Han characters are hieroglyphic in origin. The word 茶 composed of ten strokes, is a combination of three parts. The two crosses on the top represent leaves. The arrow head (circumflex) represent the crown of a tree. The remaining 木 represents the trunk, indicating woody plant. Tea has many other name beside茶(cha).Many ethnic peoples have their own names for this stuff with apparently different pronunciations. Even Han people, though using the same written form, may call it differently with their native tongues. In the literature sector, tea is given many fancy names.(2)How is It Called in Foreign Lands The sound given to the name of the plant tea by ancient Chinese had been carried through culture exchanges to many foreign lands. The name of the tea in many countries sounds alike, evidencing the transmigration of the name from one origin to other places. Generally speaking; the sounds for the name of the tea can be classified into two language groups. One is the present Putonghua or popular mandarin. In this group, Tea is called CHA. The other group is the provincial tongues which, to be exact, is the Fujian-Xiamen dialect tea is called TEY. During the Han, Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties, tea as a commodity was introduced to the outside world through culture interchange via the sea route of silk. The name accompanying this new commodity trade was CHA. It had been accepted by the Japanese people. Meanwhile, the western spreading which made tea staying in Persia, its name had been defected from CHA to SHAI. In Turkey, it became CHAY and in Portugal CHA. In Russia, it was CHA-1. The neighbors to the south of China, India, Ceylon, Pakistan and Bangladesh called tea CHA in Singhalese language. The approximate date of the transmission of the name TEY was in a later period—during the middle of Ming and Qing when the accidental overseas fleet began its oriental business trip. In 1664, the East India Company set up an office in Xiamen, then known as Amoy by its native tongue. The native tongue gave a sound of TUI or TEY to call the thing. The occidental merchants spelled the sound as TEE, then Latinized into THEE. This came out in English as Tea. This beverage leaf is in many countries. In France, it is THE. In Germany, TEE and in Spain it is TE. All these are derivatives from the Amoy tongue of TEY.
*I do want to note the Amoy/Taiwanese way of pronouncing Tey is day as in Monday, but like many translations from pronunciation to spelling in a foreign alphabet "English's a,b,c..". What was called the Orient back then was as foreign as the moon, I have a hard time reading old English writings because of the spelling they use, but it is still easier than reading old Chinese. Also being a translator mostly tea relative writings, Chinese to English, we are trying to make a standard while still respecting some of the old translations, a good one is we always call in Chinese they say "red tea"; but in English we continue to promote the translation of it as "black tea"
---Steven R. Jones 4/10/09
also thank you under the comment section someone "Anonymous", noticed the errors.
Where did Lu Yu come from?
Lu Yu was an orphan adopted by the famed Tang Dynasty Buddhist Zen Master Zhiji of Longgai Monastery. A native of Jingling city which is now Tianmen in Hubei province, he was found one morning at the crack of dawn by Master Zhiji near the lakeside of Xihu or West Lake of Jingling at the age of 3. The name Lu Yu was given to him by Master Zhiji after consulting the Yi Jing also known as "the ancient Book of Change".
The young Lu Yu received his early education in Jingling Longgai Monastery from Master Zhiji. As a young child Lu Yu showed great interest in tea and acquired and mastered the skill of tea making from Master Zhiji who himself was a zealous tea master.
When Master Zhiji found out that Lu Yu was reading non Buddhist literature and admired Zhang Heng's writing style, he feared that Lu Yu might drift further apart from him and the monastery. He restricted Lu Yu from going anywhere outside the monastery and put him in custody within the Monastery, watched over by some senior monks.
Lu Yu unhappy over the whole episode secretly plotted his own plan. One day every monk was either busy performing Chan Meditation/(Japan learn from the Chinese and called it Zen) or engaging in chores. Lu Yu, seeing no one was watching over him, quickly seized the opportunity, grabbed his belongings and ran away from the monastery at age 12.
For six years Lu Yu stayed in Houmen Mountain studying under the guidance of Master Zou Fuzi. During this period Lu Yu often brewed tea for his teacher. He also took care of fellow students' health with his remarkable knowledge in tea and herbs that he learned while at the Longgai Monastery.
Lu Yu and His Tea Classic
Lu Yu (728-804), otherwise Lu Hongjian, Lu Ji or Lu Jici, was born in Tianmen County of Hubei Province in the Tang Dynasty. His childhood was spent in a Buddhist monastery. In the reign of Emperor Li Longji (712-755) the governor of Lu’s native province discovered his talent and helped him to go to school. A talent he really was, he studied strenuously and was known to the society very quickly and was given an official post of literary instructor to the heir apparent. He was soon promoted to the chief governor of royal ritual services which he had not taken office.
Lu Yu declined the idea of marching into officialdom. He lived a literal life yet he liked to study, research and communicate with well-known figures and scholars. He showed intense interest in tea. Through researches he knew well in the art of planting, growing and processing, especially tasting tea. He lived a hermitical life in Huzhou of Zhejiang Province and wrote the book Tea Classic, reputed as the first expertise book on tea in the world. There are ten sections in the book. The gist is as follows:
The origin: The origin of tea, characteristics in its biology, relations between circumstances and quality and the effect of tea-drinking on health.
The utensils: The 15 different utensils and their usage in plucking and processing of tea.
Manufacturing: The best way of plucking and technological requirements in processing.
Tea Sets: The 25 utensils in boiling and drinking tea, the correct way of tea-drinking.
Boiling: The directions for boiling of brewing tea, stipulating standard of quality control of tea.
Drinking: Introducing the art of preparation and drinking, pointing out nine important key points of tea processing.
History: Relating the history about tea and stories of tea-loving men, with therapeutic effects of tea.
Regions: Laying down the regions of tea production (in Tang Dynasty) and comments on the different species from different regions.
Simplification: Preparing tea in a simplified way when it is done in rare occasions such as at a monastery in secluded hills.
Illustration: To illustrate all procedures about tea with drawings and then hang the painting on wall of the study to keep it always in view.
The book is really a classic written on the activities about tea, and is a condensed conclusion of the knowledge and facts about tea in Tang Dynasty and the pre-Tang times. It bestowed splendor to the tea culture of olden times.
People in the hometown of Lu Yu established a 32 meter bronze statue in a sitting position, tasting a cup of tea, in the newly built memorial hall of Lu Yu in acknowledgement of his historical merit in contribution on tea.
Lu Yu; the Saint of Tea and Cha Jing
18. Lu Yu; the Tea Saint
During his lifetime Lu Yu was well known as a literary man, a well respected multi-talented person who did not care for position or status. He spent most of his time travelling, exploring, researching on tea and writing books. Lu Yu had written many books, essays and treatise that covered a vast range of subjects.
Unfortunately almost all of Lu Yu's writing was lost; many of these excellent books could only be found now mentioned in historical records, in ancient books and reviews. Historians who studied Lu Yu believed that his autobiography was also lost and the current copy of Lu Yu's autobiography is just a cloned copy reconstructed by an unknown but skilful and crafty writer. Some minor discrepancies in writing style and some questionable events and mismatch were found in the present autobiography.
Out of all the countless books that Lu Yu had written there were a total of eleven on the subject of tea and water. It's a pity that all of these books were lost and only Cha Jing survived. There was just too much attention and emphasis focused on Cha Jing and as a result all of his other books were neglected and eventually lost over the years. As time passed by less and less people remembered Lu Yu's other talents and him as a literary man. After the Tang Dynasty he was remembered only for his contribution on tea and his Cha Jing.
During the early 80s historians and universities in the People's Republic of China conducted an in depth study on Lu Yu and concluded that Lu Yu was not just a tea man. At the end of their research and studies the team pronounced Lu Yu a poet, writer, explorer, agronomist, historian, geographer, calligrapher, playwright and actor.
The honorific title of "The Saint of Tea" never happened during Lu Yu's lifetime. It happened many years after that. In the later part of the Tang era Lu Yu's contributions and merits on tea were widely recognized. Cha Jing had proven its worth and a valuable resource to the tea industries. Only then he was bestowed as "The Tea Saint".
In 799 Lu Yu at 66 years of age, returned from Tiger Hill to his "Qingtang Bieye" home in Huzhou. Lu Yu at last settled down after 5 decades of travelling and exploring. He finally stayed put in Huzhou relaxing with tea and meditating in his "Qingtang Bieye" home. It was believed that he started on his autobiography during that time. Lu Yu enjoyed his winter of life with friends in Huzhou and passed away at age 71 in 804.
The Start of Tea as a Philosophical Concept
In China, Tea was first introduced to common people as a medicine, and then a food spices, and later a new material for drinking. Tea was later introduced to royal family, and then the Buddhist monasteries.
When tea entered into common people's daily life, it became a part of Chinese traditional Daoism; when tea entered into royal family's life, the royal family branded it with Confucianism; when tea entered into the Buddhist circle to help Buddhist monks meditate, Buddhists dissolved Buddhism into tea pots.
So, for Chinese, tea is not just tea, it is a combination of Chinese Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.
*I do not agree totally with the sentence above that the Chinese concept of tea is this. Remember the word Daoism is made of two parts Dao-ism, let us take a look at the easier term to clarify a English meaning "ism", which means religion/philosophy/a way of living or all, when we talk about the Chinese thinking of tea I use the word "Lore" for the Chinese word Dao or Tao, in English sometimes called Way. Therefore for "Cha Dao or The Way of Tea", I call it "Tea Lore", when I use the term lore I use the meaning that include history, arts, and culture. I do not mean the nonfactual or mythical meaning of lore. This is just one definition of lore, and this is not the most common or accepted definition.
---Steven R. Jones 4/10/09(revised 1/25/11)