Tea Classic

Tea Classic (Cha Jing) is the oldest book in the world on tea. It was written by the greatest tea master of the Chinese Tang dynasty. His name was Lu Yu. In a simple, yet beautiful, language he tells the story of tea as it was known more than 1,000 years ago.

Lu Yu explains in great detail how to make the perfect cup of tea. Other important topics include tea cultivation, tea drinking, how to manufacture all the equipment, and where to find the best water. Lu Yu says, for example, that: ”It is only in the city and within the gates of nobility that the aesthetic experience of tea is maimed if any of the 24 utensils is missing”.

The Translation

tea-classic-smallThis translation of the Tea Classic has taken about eight years to complete. The first chapter explains why I chose to translate this ancient Chinese book, and moreover, the difficulties associated with the project in terms of the ancient Chinese language, plant names, and the units of measurement that were used during the Tang dynasty.

I have also written a short biography on Lu Yu and an introduction to the Chinese tea history and the Tang dynasty. A short introduction to the Tea Classic has been included in order to reduce the number of notes. This is followed by the translation of Lu Yu’s publication, after which I have included a chapter containing 26 illustrations.

Lu Yu’s original manuscript does not contain any illustrations of the equipment that he describes. I have however found a few illustrations that were published a few centuries after Lu Yu wrote the Tea Classic:

  • Hymn to Tea Equipment by Shen An was published in 1269 (twelve illustrations)
  • Classification of Tea by Gu Yuanqing was published in 1541 (eight illustrations)

I have furthermore created an additional six illustrations based on Lu Yu’s descriptions in the Tea Classic.

I have used the oldest existing manuscript of the Cha Jing as source manuscript for this translation. It was included in Zuo Gui’s collectanea, or collection of scriptures, entitled One Hundred Rivers Study the Ocean in 1273. I have used a Chinese reprint of this publication. I think the oldest manuscript should also be the most reliable one.

Short Facts

Chinese title: Cha Jing 茶經
Author: Lu Yu 陸羽
Author, translator, illustrator: Rickard Nygårds
Publication year: 2018
Total number of illustrations: 29
Total number of notes: 172
Total number of Chinese characters in the source manuscript: 7,206

Table of Contents

  • The translation
    • Pinyin
    • Plant names
    • Units of measurement
  • Tea and the Tang dynasty
  • Lu Yu – a short biography
    • Daoist
    • Publications
    • Friends and journeys
  • Introduction to the Tea Classic
  • Tea Classic
    • Part one
      • 1 Origin of tea
      • 2 Tools
      • 3 Production
    • Part two
      • 4 Utensils
    • Part three
      • 5 Cooking
      • 6 Drinking
      • 7 Literature
      • 8 Production areas
      • 9 Omit equipment
      • 10 Suspension
  • Illustrations
  • Bibliography
  • Supplement
  • Notes

This translation is only available as an ebook on Amazon and Google Play/Books.