Tea History Lecture Notes (Tang to Ming)


  • ShenNong
  • Yunnan Minority groups
  • Uses

Tang Dynasty (618 – 907)

  • During the Tang Dynasty, tea drinking customs spread quickly in the north of China on the basis of development in south China.
  • The flourishing and influences of Buddhism were important factors in promoting tea drinking customs to spread from the South to the North of China.
  • Practitioners of Chan or sat in meditation were required neither to sleep nor to eat food at night, but all of them could drink tea.
  • Another important factor for the flourishing of tea affairs was the appearance of tribute teas for imperial court use. Tea drinking was popular in the imperial court of the Tang period and there were many forms of tea ceremonies and tea parties.
  • The imperial court attached great importance to tea production. In 770CE, Emperor Tang Daizong had Guanpei (Governmental baking) established on Guzhushan Mountain in Changxing of Zhejiang (a special production base for plucking and processing tea for imperial court use) .
  • Every tea growing province had a tribute tea
  • Processing: The plucked tea leaf was steamed in a steamer, ground in a
  • mortar, compressed into cake, dried and strung with rind of reed or
  • bamboo. The cake tea was ground into powder, shifted and cooked in a
  • caldron before drinking. It could be mixed with a verity of things.
  • The Tang poet Lu Tong (790-835) devoted most of his poetry to his love of tea.
  • The 8th century author Lu Yu (known as the Sage of Tea) even wrote a treatise on the art of drinking tea, called the Classic of Tea (Chájing).
  • Although wrapping paper had been used in China since the 2nd century BC, during the Tang Dynasty the Chinese were using wrapping paper as folded and sewn square bags to hold and preserve the flavor of tea leaves.
  • During this Time, Tea was a State Monopoly

Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 CE)

  • Tea plantation in the Song Dynasty was three times the size that it was during the Tang Dynasty.
  • According to a survey in 1162, tea plantations were spread across 66 prefectures in 244 counties. The BeiYuan Plantation (North Park Plantation) was an imperial tea plantation in Fujian prefecture. It produced more than forty varieties of tribute tea for the imperial court.
  • Only the very tip of tender tea leaves were picked, processed and pressed into tea cakes, embossed with dragon pattern, known as “dragon tea cakes”.
  • The state monopoly on Sichuan tea was the prime source of revenue for the state’s purchase of horses in Qinghai for the Song army’s cavalry forces.
  • CháZào — Zhu Xi
    xianweng yíshízào
    wanzài shuizhongyang
    yinbà fangzhouqù
    cháyan niaoxìxiang
  • ‘Tea Stove’ by Zhu Xi
    Stone stove left behind by immortals,
    Lies crooked in the center of the stream.
    Tea finished, two boats drift on abreast,
    Tea smoke; wafting delicate fragrance.
  • The practice of boiling the water separately and whisking tea came into being
  • The Rise of tea competitions
  • Over 32 implements for preparing tea
  • It was enjoyed by all social classes at the time. The competitors cooked the tea by some specific procedures and game rules. By comparing the taste, color, smell and quality of the tea soup, the winner will be respected as the most skilled, experienced and knowledgeable tea master who controlled the Tao of Tea. During the
  • Song Dynasty, many emperors were loyal fans of the tea competition.
  • Tea Spread to Japan

Yuan Dynasty / Mongols (1271 – 1368)

  • Eradicated the elaborate ceremony
  • Whole leaf tea came into vogue

Ming (1368 – 1644 CE)

  • Renowned for its exceptional porcelain
  • The introduction of the Gaiwan
  • The Tibetans, keen to maintain good relations with the Chinese emperors, traded horses for tea replacing the Mongol’s as their main trading partners for these essential animals.
  • Ships sailed in and out at just about every Chinese harbor with valuable tea filling the holds. Tea was sold to many Southeast Asian and some African countries on the Indian Ocean coast.
  • In 1610 tea arrived in Europe via Macau on a Dutch merchant ship.
  • Jingdezhen

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