Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sage of Tea

Lu Yu  is respected as the Sage of Tea for his contribution to Chinese tea culture. He is best known for his famous book The Classic of Tea, the first work of its kind on the cultivating, making and drinking of tea.

Modern Statue of Lu Yu
Lu was born in 733 in Tianmen, Hubei. For six years Lu Yu studied under the master Zou Fuzi. During this period Lu Yu often brewed tea for his teacher and fellow students with his remarkable knowledge in tea and herbs that he learned.
Lu Yu often went to the countryside to gather tea leaves and herbs. Once he stumbled upon a spring underneath a 6-foot round rock and the water from the spring was extremely clear and clean. He brewed tea with this spring water he found the tea tasted unexpectedly better than usual. From then on Lu Yu realised the importance of quality water in brewing tea.
Zou Fuzi was moved by Lu Yu's obsession with tea and his skill in brewing good tea. He cleared the rock together with some of his students and dug a well around the fountainhead of that spring. In 1768, just over a thousand years later during the Qing Dynasty (1616–1911), Jingling was hit by drought and the whole city was badly in need of water. City folks found water still flowing from this well discovered by Lu Yu and dug by Zou Fuzi. A Qing official ordered three wells to be dug around the spring, and a structure constructed near the wells named "Lu Yu Hut" and the "Literary Spring".
In 752 Lu Yu concluded his studies, bade farewell to his shifu (teacher) Zou Fuzi and returned to Jingling. He befriended Cui Goufu, a senior officer at Jinglin, and assisted him in his administrative tasks. The two men spent much time travelling, drinking tea and writing poems and they co-authored several books on poems. Cui Goufu, with his vast experience and skill in literary work, became a coach to Lu Yu and provided him the necessary guidance to enhance and mature his writing and literary skills. During this time Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea.
The original version of The Classic of Tea consisted of 3 books covering 10 chapters in total; book 1 consisted of the first 3 chapters, book 2 consisted of chapter 4 only, book 3 consisted of chapters 5 to 10. After the Tang Dynasty all three books were bound into a single one and the three volumes version was no longer available.
A statue of Lu Yu in Xian, China

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