A Bowl of Good Tea in the Northern Song Dynasty: Using Modern Examples to Understand the Daguan chalun 大觀茶論

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Abstract

Although tea has played an important role in Chinese culture in both historical and modern periods, the origins and history of tea cultures in China have not received much attention in English language scholarship. We can build a solid foundation for discussing how to prepare and appreciate tea in Chinese history by relying on the hints given in the Daguan chalun 大觀茶論 and associating them with the aesthetics and elite cultures in the Norther Song Dynasty. This article first proposes to conduct simulation experiments by using modern examples to help understand the diancha 點茶 (tea-tipping) process recorded in the Daguan chalun, attributed to Emperor Huizong 徽宗. It argues that, out of the multiple tea practices of the Northern Song period, the authors of the Daguan chalun aimed to establish and regulate a new, single standard and preference for making and drinking tea. By prioritizing the Jian’an 建安 Baicha 白茶, praising the Jian’an tea bowls, grading and categorizing tea types, and promoting the diancha practice, Huizong and his subordinates added much cultural and financial value to the tea. The composition and dissemination of the Daguan chalun assisted in their creation of a new elite culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3–41
Number of pages39
JournalEast Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Volume54
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • tea
  • Northern Song
  • Huizong
  • Daguan chalun
  • diancha

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