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Home>EnglishTea And Health CareThe Origin of teaThe Earliest Book on TeaThe Extensive Chinese Tea Growing DistictsThe Variety of Tea

  The Earliest Book on Tea  

      Although tea originated in China, the Chinese know little about it until 760 A. D. to 780 A. D. when Lu Yu wrote a special treatise on the subject which elucidates the orgin, function, distribution, collection and the way of drinking tea. Prior to Lu Yu’s masterpiece——”The Treatise on Tea” (Cha Jing), people could only link up the venerable art of tea drinking from poems and legends. ”The Treatise on Tea” made a deeper analysis and synthesis. Thus Lu Yu’s writing marked the debut of scientific knowledge of tea which has had a profound impact on history.
      The Major Contributions of ”The Treatise on Tea”: The 7000 words treatise is composed of three parts and ten sections. Part One: the first section deals with the origin, the properties, the names and quality of tea; the second introduces the functions and specifications of the 15 kinds of appliances and tools for picking and preparing tea leaves; the third discusses the ways for selecting and picking tea leaves and their preparation. part Two: the fourth lists the utensils for infusing and drinking tea. part Three: the fifth mentions the ways of infusion, and evaluates the quality of water of various places, the fragrance and color of brewed tea; the sixth talks about the custom and practices of tea drinking; the seventh tells the related stories, origins and the curative effects of tea; the eighth gives a critique on tea of various places; the ninth suggests what kind of appliances and utensils can be eliminated; the tenth teaches people to write the treatise on wilk as mural tapestries.
      The treatise epitomized the preparation of tea and recorded the related materials and historical documents in detail. It is the most exposition which gives gives an account of the anther's personal experience. Despite its age—old information which was limited by the scientific conditions of the time, it is still the best available reference for studying the art.

  What the treatise says:

      Tea quality varies with ecological factors:
      The treatise concluded that gravel produces top grade tea, while sand and clay give medium and low grades respectively. It is relatively correspondent to the results if the physical and chemical analyses on soil, as well as the botanical response of tea. The treatise put forth that slopes receive much more sunlight but arboreal lands offer shady protection, Moreover, new shoots and rolled violet leaves are better than buds and spread green leaves respectively. It explains how the location of cultivation, sunlight duration, temperature and humidity affect the shapes and qualities of tea leaves. Such a systematize record is certainly a good reference for modern tea planters.
      The treatise believed that tea plants could not be transplanted. In the past, this was correct. Nowadays, with better facilities and advanced technology, cottage and asexual reproduction of plant cells have proved successful, These methods brought forth by modern science are able to upgrade and stabilize the quality of tea leaves.
      The tools and utensils adopted could fall into7 categories which implied the 7 steps of picking and preparing tea:
      The treatise portrayed the tools and utensils used in the 7 steps (to pick, steam, pound, crush, bake, string and store ) to the fullest detail. Only experience can work it out.
      To appreciate and appraise tea by its properties instead of appearance:
      Because of the complicated processing, different varieties produce different shapes of tea leaves. In order to grade tea, the outward appearance of tea leaves and the scent and color of the tea brewed must be taken into consideration.
      The treatise fully described the ways of infusion and drinking:
      From today’s point of view, some ways are too fancy and mysterious. Some are even too harsh to follow. Nevertheless, it carefully studied the use of water sources. indicating that mountain streams are the best while water from a river is preferable to water from a well. The treatise suggested that, to make a cup of well—brewed tea, the water cannot be boiled for too long. Seasoning and tea leaves added must be in proportion to the water boiled. Excess water is inadvisable. Such advice is valuable even today.
      The treatise confirmed the medical value of tea and that tea drinking is beneficial to the human body:
      As modern science develops, the elements contained in tea leaves, which are found to have positive effects on the human body, are discovered.
      The treatise made a thorough narration on China’s tea producing regions:
      China’s tea producing provinces include Hubei, Hunan, Henan, Anhui, Zhejiang, jianxi, Fujian, Sichuan, Guizhou Guangdong and Guanxi. Among them, there are 42 famous regions which produce tea of note. Certainly, Lu Yu’s work is a precious historical document on China’s tea history.

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