Moutains of gold I do not require, Jaded white cup is not my desire, Status and rank I least aspire, Fame and fortune I care not to acquire, I only thirst for water from Yangtze west, Far as Jingling I wandered for to fill my quest. Lu Yu (733-804) The Saint of Tea.
Two days ago I didn’t feel well in the early evening and went to bed early. The problem with going to bed early is you also wake up early, so that night I woke up in the middle of the night. While lying in bed and trying to get back to sleep a poem written by Lu Yu the Saint of Tea just kept popping up in my head. Mentally I started translating it to English. The next morning I started to input into my PC and after several revisions on our(my wife and I) translation, the above is our final translated version of Lu Yu’s poem.
A short biography of Lu Yu;
Lu Yu was an orphan abandoned by the lakeside at the west lake of Jingling city and was found and adopted by Zen Master Zhi Ji of LongGai Monastery when he was 3 years old. The name Lu Yu was given to him by Zen Master Zhi Ji after consulting the Yi Jing – “The Book of Change”(I-Ching). Zen Master Zhi Ji taught Lu Yu everything about Zen Buddhism and the Art of tea. However, Lu Yu had no interest in Zen Buddhism but he mastered the Art of tea from his Master while still a young child.
He ran away from the Monastery at the age of 12 and joined a travelling performers troupe as a comedian. Lu Yu, though not blessed with good looks and spoke with a stammer, was brilliant and witty. He wrote 3 books of comic sketch and became a very famous and popular comedian. Together with his already remarkable knowledge in tea, many high ranking Jingling officials befriended him and he took that opportunity to learn and travel with them, spending time drinking tea and tasting water. He later settled in Zhejiang, retired in the wild and became a semi hermit to concentrate on his quest and research on tea. He spent 20 years from 760 to 780 on his research and the result was the publication of his book — Cha Jing (The Tea Classic). This was the first comprehensive treatise on tea ever written in history. Later, books on tea mostly based on his writing and expanded on with new findings were published.
Lu Yu was offered many high ranking positions in the palace by the Tang Emperor all of which he politely turned down. His only love was tea and the nature of the poem above was a true reflection of his character. He had travelled to many places tasting water and found the water west of Yangzte river near Nanling city the best for brewing tea during his time. Lu Yu was a multi-talented man and a competent poet as well but his master-piece Cha Jing had overshadowed all his other works. It was learnt that Zen Master Zhi Ji stopped drinking tea all together after Lu Yu left the monastery because no one brewed tea like Lu Yu. After Lu Yu died he was bestowed The Saint of Tea and some people even worshipped him as the Tea God. In fact many Chinese tea shops and tea farms still worship him.
While writing this articles I remembered an ex-colleague who can’t wait to brag about the expensive “Ming Dynasty” tea cup he used for drinking tea. Obviously he know little about tea and had a lot to learn from The Saint of Tea – Master Lu Yu!