China boasts a sophisticated tea culture: tea was first discovered and drunk in China several thousand years ago and drinking tea has become a daily habit of the Chinese people. A complicated tea ceremony has developed. When we talk about Chinese tea culture today, we shouldn’t miss an important figure in Chinese history—Lu Yu, who was respected as a ‿Tea Sage ‿for his contribution to Chinese tea culture.
Born in 733 AD in the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), Lu Yu was an orphan adopted by a monk in modern day Hubei Province. At that time, drinking tea became a nationwide tradition. (Tea drinking originally appeared in Southern China, and until the mid-Tang Dynasty it started to gain favor with Northern Chinese). The widespread distribution of tea can be attributed to the extensive practice of Zen Buddhism in the whole country. Because sleeping and eating were strictly prohibited for Buddhists practicing meditation, they could only drink tea. Many monks were tea connoisseurs at the same time.
The monk who adopted Lu Yu was a tea lover and Lu Yu prepared tea for him from childhood. As the years passed, Lu Yu’s skill at preparing tea improved and he developed a great interest in the brew. In his late years, Lu Yu withdrew from the outside world and concentrated on research into tea. The fruits of his research were written down in his masterpiece—the Classic of Tea.
In the book, Lu Yu tried to comprehensively present all known information about Chinese tea culture. It is divided into three sections and ten chapters, including the origin of tea, tea tools, tea picking, tea cooking, tea ceremony and famous tea producing areas. Perhaps of most historical value is the seventh chapter, entitled ‿Tea events‿and records incidents concerning tea over thousands of years, from legendary times to the Tang Dynasty.