Lu Yu and Book of Tea 09-22-2004 17:33

The Guzhu Hill in Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, at an elevation of 355 metres, covers an area of only about two square kilometers but it is famous for Zisun tea, a tribute presented to the imperial family in the middle of the Tang Dynasty. The Golden Sand Spring is a tourist attraction here.

The warm and moist climate, fertile soil and foggy surroundings of the Guzhu Hill are favourable for the growth of tea. A tribute tea house was built at the foot of the hill in A.D. 801, the 17th year of the Zhenyuan period of the Tang Dynasty. Down through the ages, many men of letters came here to sip tea, enjoy the scenery and compose or recite poems. Lu Yu, a sage of tea who lived during the Tang Dynasty, ran a tea garden here. It was also here that he wrote the Book of Tea, the first book in the world on tea culture. He was reputed to be the "deity of tea", "sage of tea" and even the "immortal of tea".

KOU DAN (expert of tea culture):

Lu Yu was a native of Tianmen, Hubei. Tea was not produced in Tianmen. After the armed rebellion led by An Lushan and Shi Siming at the middle of the Tang Dynasty, Lu Yu came to Huzhou with other refugees. Here he found his close friend Jiao Ran who lived in Huzhou. Jiao Ran owned a tea garden at Guzhu Hill.

Lu Yu ran the tea garden for Jiao Ran.

Lu Yu and his friends often got together. They talked about tea, sipped tea and studied the planting and cultivation of tea shrubs. Summing up the experience accumulated by people of earlier generations and what he had observed, he wrote the Book of Tea.

The Book of Tea consists of three sections and 10 chapters with a total of over 7,000 characters. It discusses the history of Chinese tea, the major producing areas, the processing of tea and the customs of drinking tea. Lu Yu maintained that good taste should be pursued in food, clothing, shelter and transport. He regarded the process of drinking tea as an artistic delight. He created the Chinese tea ceremony including such steps as drying tea leaves, selecting water, brewing tea, arranging the tea set and sipping tea.

According to Lu Yu, tea should be selected from the best possible producing areas, tea leaves should be picked at the right time and tea should be processed in the proper way. The quality of water is of vital importance for the colour, aroma and taste of tea. The drawing and storage of water is quite an art. The tea set should be easily usable and arranged in good order so that it can inspire an aesthetic feeling. In his Book of Tea, Lu Yu designed a tea set of 24 pieces for boiling and drinking tea. People in ancient China believed that they performed a kind of etiquette, an inevitable course of enjoying tea to the utmost.


The Book of Tea covers every aspect of tea in ancient times. It sums up the picking and processing of tea and deals with the tea set and tea culture. It is not only a book on tea science, but also a book on tea culture.

Lu Yu stressed the spirit of human beings in all matters pertaining to tea, highlighting the morals and sentiments of tea sippers. He also combined the ideas of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism with the process of drinking tea. So from the beginning the custom of drinking tea was endowed with profound meanings of philosophy and culture.

Editor:Xiang Jing

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