【The Practice of Tea】
The gentlest core of Chinese culture lies in “the one and only and all”—tea.
As early as the Chou dynasty, tea has become the crown jewel when trading goods in the markets of primitive society.
The Han dynasty Buddhists use tea to help achieve states of true Zen while the following two dynasties witnessed the growing popularity of tea drinking. Then comes the Tang dynasty where “not a day goes by without this thing called cha.
”In the Song dynasty, “tea battling”, or the fierce competition and grading system helped ensure the sophistication of tea culture.
Then comes the Qing dynasty where the now joined cultures of tea and the city reached its peak due to the magnificent commercial activities at the time.
In a word, tea is life; it is the ultimate combination of culture and art, emotion and body, creativity and tradition, in harmony with the heart and soul of the perseverance of this person called Han.
Lu-yu, the legendary author of “cha jing” (the Tea Bible) written in the 8th century, has changed the face of tea culture ever since.
Not only are his 7000 some words in the three volumes and ten chapters the very definitive guide to tea-lovers in generations to come, but he also put everything to practice by seeking the best spring water, finding the best unknown tea.
It is fair to say that his aesthetic execution and realization of the “Tao of tea” can be viewed as the core value of the world of art.
Two verses by the poets Du Fong and Ling Yi from the Song and Tang dynasties put it best:
“ when guests knock on a cold night, tea is wine”;
“I find myself in between wild springs and white clouds.
I empty my cup and savor the tea, the scent, the mount.”
As for the ties between tea and Beauty, Liu Yu-xi of the Tang dynasty put it clearest:
“where is heaven?” people often ask
picking tea leaves on a bright spring early
if this view and feel can be forever had
give me more tea no more poetry.