Friday, September 3, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea By Hanjae Yi Mok 2. The Names For Tea


"Each embodies the pure essence of Heaven and Earth, each imbibes the bright beams of sun and moon."

from Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok translated in Korean Tea Classics

Feel free to join the online book club at anytime by simply purchasing Korean Tea Classics. The classics will be covered one section a week which will go on for about a year.

Peace

31 comments:

Ryan said...

Just wanted to thank you for recommending these two books... ordered them a few weeks ago in an attempt to learn more about Korean tea culture (one area of tea I have awful lot to learn about). Looking forward to digging into these books soon.

Matt said...

Ryan,

Your enthusiasm to learn about Korean tea is apparent and rightfully so. Do join us in the discussion of these Korean tea classics.

And one passes the thanks onto the three translators that made this book possible, without their efforts we wouldn't have a point of discussion.

Peace

Matt said...

Does anyone recognize any of these old school names?

Peace

Bret said...

Well I for one am stumped. I havn't the foggiest idea what that quote is supposed to be refering to.

I mean, Ive read it in the book, read the names of the teas, yeah, so?

Maybe if you could somehow set it up for us (an introduction) we could have an idea as to what we are supposed to do with that.

Victoria said...

Hi There, I am interested in joining, if I may. I have a very strong interest in Korean tea culture, but very little knowledge.

Matt said...

Victoria,

Yes, do join in. :)

Bret & Others,

There is more than one layer of meaning in this section- it is more than just a list of tea names. Sleep on it.

Peace

Steven said...

Matt,

Thanks for the hint...

Steve.

Matt said...

All,

On the surface level this is an extensive lists of tea names. The shear number of names listed creates a feeling of the breadth and vastness of tea during Hanjae Yi Mok's time. Even reading the list today you feel as though tea is not as simple as it seems. Next section's list of tea growing regions also helps to fortify this idea of tea as something with many names, many types, and from many places.

This section starts out by stating the the forms of tea or different characters (words) for tea. Steven Owyoung's footnotes state that this is a paraphrase of Part 1 "Origins" of the Classic of Tea by Lu Yu. Out of the five names of tea listed in the Classic of Tea, Hanjae Yi Mok uses the names "she", "ming", and "chuan" but replaces the more common "cha" and "jia" with "Han" and "Bo". What is interesting is why HanJae Yi Mok decided to make these additions and omissions here. Perhaps he wanted to make tea seem more functional or perhaps it reflected the current use of tea in Korea. Or perhaps the changes were made to give tea a feeling of more depth and breadth. The additions certainly make tea seem as though it is much more useful- it can be used from the earliest bud to mature leaf and that it can be used for medicine and as a food. The decision to omit the common names of tea also removes some redundancy.

The next section lists many types of teas, each with their own names. This information serves as statistical data on the Chinese tea of Hanjae Yi Mok's time. It is an interesting list to say the least. Something of note is the predominance of cake teas- out of the 30 types of tea (it lists 32 but two are general names that could apply to cake or loose leaf tea) all but 3 are cake teas. This gives us an indication of the kind of tea being consumed in Hanjae Yi Mok's time, at least in China. One can't help but wonder, What ever happened to all these cake teas? Wonder if they are essentially the same teas that exist today but are simply not pressed?

Three of the 32 names pertain specifically to Korean teas today.

Sparrow's Tongue (#5) is also the general name used for Korean green teas of a very small leaf that is usually but not always saejak grade. This name is describing the look of the dry leaf which resembles that of a sparrow's tongue.

Before Rain (#28) and After Rain (#29) also refer to the current system of grading Korean green tea. Before Rain refers to tea produced before Gogu- ujeon tea. After Rain (#29) refers to tea produced after gogu- saejak, jungjak, daejak.

Peace

Matt said...

The deeper meaning of this section is as follows:

"Although tea has many characters and functions (first sentence), many types (main list), different forms (cake vs. loose), and different growing conditions (shade grown vs. sun grown), all tea is of the same essential "pure essence" containing the balance of yin (Earth, moon) and yang (Heaven, sun) and as such contains the nature of Dao."

The quote selected for this section may be referring to section 42 of the Classic Daoist text Daodejing ("The Classic of The Way and Natural Virtue of The Old Master") by Laozi.

It is also saying that although tea has many different characteristics and complexities, it is all simply tea- camellia sinensis. Beautiful in its simplicity. 10 000 things return to 1.

Peace

Bret said...

I,m fairly confident that I can speak for most westerners when I say....Not only do we not recognize any of those "old school" names, we have never even heard them before now. Again, this "riddle" is something I never would have figured out on my own.

But your final explanation brings it all home and it now makes sense. 10,000 things returning to 1

You have used that quote before and I had no idea what you meant by it.....now I do.
Thanks, Matt

Matt said...

Bret,

It is ones estimation that this section had little discussion, not because participant were not interested, but because many people in this book club were likely staring blankly at this section... thinking... "So What- a list of tea names?".

Here is a link to one of the articles that Brett is referring to:

http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/yixing-zen-story-of-that-yixing-pot.html

Peace

Anonymous said...

All,

Part 1 of three parts

In appreciation of the discussion regarding Yi Mok and the cosmological nature of the essence of tea, the following notes on “The Names of Tea” are offered:

The names of processed tea, caked and otherwise, fall broadly into several groups, including imperial tribute, auspicious fortune, flora and herbs, and the realm of immortals. The single exception to the categories is the tea named Solitary Wanderer 獨行, an oblique reference to the Tang poet and tea master Lu Yü 陸羽, who in his autobiography described himself as plagued with a restless habit of seeking wild places for long, aimless walks during which he wailed and wept until people thought him mad. His eccentricities and freedom from convention epitomized the independent and high minded and those special few who “walk alone.”

Tea names of auspicious fortune include Good Luck 運合, Good Fortune 慶合, Prosperity 福合, Happiness 祿合, and Causing Delight 指合. Such names indicate the aspirations of humankind, high and low, but it is of particular interest that all five of the teas are from the Yüan dynasty, circa fourteenth century.

Appellations alluding to precious metals and treasure denote the periodic tribute of silk, bullion, ceramics, metals, lacquer, timber, and provincial specialties and produce like tea to the imperial and aristocratic courts. By name alone, Pure Gold 頭金, Beautiful Gold 勝金, Golden Tea 金茗, and Tribute Treasure 進寶 were candidates for tribute, especially during the Song dynasty, but such teas were superceded by the celebrated Dragon and Phoenix 龍鳳 rounds, caked teas with the imperial emblems of the emperor and empress figured in their designs. Names that refer to the spring season such as First Spring 先春 and Early Spring 早春 as well as the early periods of the twenty-four solar terms like Before Rain 雨前 and After Rain 雨後 may well be considered tribute teas. The imperial calendar of rites observed many of the solar terms, and during the spring it was imperative for the first harvest of tea to reach the capital before the emperor’s sacrificial offering of tea to the imperial ancestors during the Qingming Festival 清明節.

Steve.

Anonymous said...

All,

Part 2 of three parts

Mountain Barrier 山堤 likely refers to the annual winter preparation of the hilly trails and roads into the imperial tea gardens just prior to the spring harvest. Wax tea 蠟面 was an important tribute, so named for the intricate and laborious process by which the surface of the tea cake was made to resemble the dark, rich, lustrous quality of fine lacquer. Imperially Summoned 召的 was a wax tea known by two other names: Rock Milk 石乳 and True Milk 的乳. Milk was a reference to cavern springs and the mineral laced liquid that dripped from stalactites into pools of pure, clear water. Spring water 泉水 was considered superior to all other sources of water for tea, and the tea names Twin Streams 雙溪 and Flowing Spring 來泉 are assumed to be allusions to spring fed waters.

In appreciation of the discussion regarding Yi Mok and the cosmological nature of the essence of tea, the following notes on “The Names of Tea” are offered:

Flowery names such as Floral Beauty 華英 and Green Beauty 綠英 indicate tea and its intimate connection to the world of natural flora, referring at times to abundance and reproduction as in the names Profuse 薄側 and Delicate Stamens 嫩蘂. Beyond ordinary flowering plants, there are herbs like Solomon’s Seal 黃精, used by ancient practitioners of internal alchemy 內丹, to which the tea Sprouting Yellow 生黃 is nominally analogous. The name Spirit Plant 靈草 points more directly to herbs of immortality as do the teas Immortal’s Hand 仙掌 and Immortal’s Mushroom 仙芝.

Steve.

Anonymous said...

All,

Part 3 of three parts

Less obvious references to immortality are names such as Feathers and Down 翎毛 and other allusions to birds like Sparrow’s Tongue 雀舌 and Bird-beak 鳥嘴. Immortals were avian creatures with the hairy bodies of humans and the wings and features of feathered fowl. Thunder-clap 雷鳴 notes the stimulation of the Five Agents 五行 and the numinous clouds and rains of Heaven 天, celestial waters that resounded in the clear, liquid secretion of the human body: saliva. The teas Pure Mouth 淸口 and Jade Saliva 玉津 refer to the salivary essence concentrated in the mouth and swallowed in volume during meditation by adepts of internal alchemy. In the mouth, a kind of alchemy is created whenever tea is tasted or imbibed. Human saliva contains salivary amylase or ptyalin, an enzyme that converts carbohydrates into sugars, giving bitter tea, especially green tea, a sweet flavor or aftertaste.

In the mystical realm of the Way of Tea 茶道, Heaven 天, Earth 地, and Humanity 人 - the cosmic Three Sovereign Powers - are represented metaphorically by the myriad names of tea. In the harmonious brewing and formal drinking of the leaf, tea is sacrificed symbolically as the vaunted crown of the ritual libations, the Six Purities 六清. Such was the tea of former times.

Steve.

Matt said...

Steve,

A millions thanks for elucidating the specific meaning of all these tea names! It gives us much to digest and, once again, speaks to the vastness of tea.

A complete list of tea types form Hanjae Yi Mok's time no doubt gives historians and researchers a myriad of statistics of which to work with. Thanks so much for alerting us to some of the categories that these teas can be grouped into.

The last few sentences alludes to the Three Sovereign Powers but only states Earth and Heaven, without mention of Man (or qi, or breath) do you think that this may be another attempt by Hanjae Yi Mok to personify tea as "worthy person" as mentioned in section 1 or is it done to imply that Man will connect with tea in the actual preparation and consumption of tea, thereby reinforcing the connection of the The Sovereign Powers?

Peace

Anonymous said...

Matt,

Regarding the last lines of “The Names of Tea,” Yi Mok writes about tea as the “pure essence” of Heaven and Earth. The duality of Heaven and Earth is matched by other complementary states such as “loose-leaf” and “caked teas,” “shade [yin 陰]” and “sun [yang 陽],” and the “sun and moon.” The sequence of dualistic natures is a literary devise, one elegantly wrought and effectively used by the classically trained Yi Mok.

As to the question of the personification of tea, the Three Sovereign Powers are traditionally held to be Heaven, Earth, and Humanity with mankind standing between sky and terra firma. In this cosmic scheme, tea is a vehicle: a blessing from Heaven and Earth, on one hand, and on the other, a sacrifice offered by man. Ideally, each time tea is brewed and imbibed, the ritual maintained and promoted the harmony of the universe.

Steve.

Matt said...

Steve,

The your presentation of Hanjae Yi Mok's Confusion point of view is invaluable to the understanding of this classic text. Ones lens is a bit too obscured by Daoist and Buddhist foundations. :)

Tea as a sacrifice or as an offering has deep historical roots in Korea and is an inseparable aspect of the Korean Way of Tea. What is quite interesting about Cha Bu is the strong underlying literary presentation to present tea as something in harmony with the values of Confucianism. This is no doubt done deliberately as a pitch to the mainstream philosophy of the day but also to establish a Way of Tea in Korea that distances itself from the previous Buddhist Way of Tea that had reinforced itself through Korea's history previous to the formation of the newly formed Confucius Joseon Dynasty.

Peace

Matt said...

Oops... typo. That is suppose to be "Confucian point of view" not "Confusion point of view"!

Hahaha... maybe it should be both ;)

Peace

Adam Yusko said...

Sorry, for the late response I've been a bit swamped lately. Though I would like to say that I got the samples yesterday and look forward to trying one of them in a little bit.

But Matt I thin the biggest problem for a lot of us with no or very little Chinese or Korean language skills, is the fact that we are unable to read the characters for the tea names, and we are often unfamiliar with the direct translations of the Chinese or Korean Names for tea.

I know for a fact that once I get away from the more popular Chinese teas, most notably Puerh tea, while I can give a guess at the pronunciation of the cakes name due to its translation into pinyin or similar, I honestly have no clue what they are saying. I mean sometimes I find it laughable when I find out after a fact that a cake is called "Many joys cake" or similar.

So while certain sound familiar, such as I believe in the past I have heard a reference to Bird-beak, I might actually know it better by its Korean or Chinese Name, though no promises.

But what is most noticeable to me, is the fact that the names all seem to paint such a wonderful picture, or describe an enlightened or happy state.

Adam

Matt said...

Adam Yusko,

Guess the "happy images" cake names tie in to the theme that tea drinking is pleasurable. This theme was the first idea to be presented in the first paragraph of section 1. preface.

Peace

Anonymous said...

Matt,

As you suggest, Yi Mok was likely a Confucianist with Daoist leanings. It was not unusual for even the staunchest Confucians to be learned in the cosmological fundamentals of yin and yang, the Five Agents, Heaven and Earth, Cardinal Directions, etc. Opposition to the formal religion did not preclude appreciation or adherence to Daoist thought, poetics, or principles.

Steve.

Matt said...

Steven,

Hanjae Yi Mok drops the names of several famous historical figures throughout Cha Bu (especially section 1,5,6,7) but not once does he mention a Buddhist thinker. They are either of Daoist or Confucius thought.

Peace

Ho Go said...

'Buddhist thinker'. Haha. I know you said this unintentionally but the answer may lie in your phrase. Ch'an schools were not in the business of analysis and knowledge. Conceptual thinking was not on the menu!

Matt said...

HoGo,

"Buddhist thinker" hahaha ... When initially writing this, one paused and thought about rephrasing it... but then what do you call someone that thinks about all those Buddha things, talkin all that Buddha talk? :)

Peace

Ho Go said...

I call it silly. :)

Matt said...

Hogo,

"Buddhist Thinker" a good example of an oxymoron! hahaha... still think its funny :)

A common misconception in the West is that Buddhists sit around all day and do nothing but dwell in non-mind, sitting in mediation or speak in nonsense all day. But this is far from the truth. This type of practice is only one small part of other practices such as scripture study, prayers, chores, administration, giving dharma talks, public out reach, alms collection, ect, ect...

So of course all Buddhists 'think'. Without thought we would all be zombies right? Buddhist zombies... hahaha ;)

Peace

Rebekah said...

Very happy to read your post and comments, thanks, All! (Hi, Victoria) Steven, will your comments here appear also in the new translation of the Classic of Tea, or should we take notes :) ? The physical beauty of this book is striking. Not every work in print reflects the beauty of its subject like this, and what other writing system attempted to reflect the oneness of the universe with our name for things? Without knowledge of the language, one can still use the translation of the tea names and match with childish pleasure the characters for gold, spring, rain, etc. In line three, what is the sun/speak character in each word for "tea" doing?

Julien ÉLIE said...

Matt,

Out of the five names of tea listed in the Classic of Tea, Hanjae Yi Mok uses the names "she", "ming", and "chuan" but replaces the more common "cha" and "jia" with "Han" and "Bo".

I do not understand. I only see four names ("bud-leaf tea", "mature-leaf tea", "medicine", "vegetable"). I think "han" is for "medicine" and "bo" is for vegetable, according to the notes. But what for the others?

And what for the other "ta" (荼) name, not mentioned?

Another question: why is medicine a cold property of tea? Does it mean it should be drunk cold? Or is it an hint that "white" teas are better for medicine?

"First Spring", "Early Spring" -> I do not see any mention of Autumn. Weren't teas also picked up later in the year?

Matt said...

Julien ÉLIE,

Those are good questions.

Regarding the names of tea: In The Classic of tea Lu Yu lists the five different characters for tea. These five characters are simply different ways of saying "tea" and reflect tea's long history and regional differences.

Hanjae Yi Mok, instead of focusing on history and regional differences, lists two of the five names listed in Classics of Tea as well as two other names for tea that have more of a functional meaning. The fifth tea character "cha" (or "ta") is already implied by its use throughout the work so it is not listed (see above comment on avoiding redundancy).

"why is medicine a cold property of tea? Does it mean it should be drunk cold? Or is it an hint that "white" teas are better for medicine?"

All tea initially contains cold thermal nature, it is only processing that brings about a change in its thermal energy. "Thermal nature" (or "Thermal property") is not referring to an actual temperature that can be measured with a thermometer, instead it is alluding to the way the tea energetically moves in the body after it is consumed- Does it bring with it a warm sensation or cool sensation in the body?

White tea is no better for medicine than puerh tea or oolong tea or green tea (or any other tea) although white tea is said to have the coolest nature of all tea. It is the way the type of tea is used in a case by case basis that determines its worth medicinally.

"Weren't teas also picked up later in the year?"

Traditionally, tea growing regions in the North didn't have picking seasons in the Fall. The last season was in Summer.

Again, good questions.

Peace

Julien ÉLIE said...

Thanks a lot for your answer, Matt.
Having look at the Chinese characters in the text, I find out that the four terms used are: ming, chuan, han and bo. OK. (I believe that the comment in the book is misleading, or at least not clear enough if we do not look at the Chinese text!)

Thanks for your explanation about “thermal nature” and “thermal energy”. Very interesting.

I also have another question about Gogu (April, 20th) -- as you speak about it in one of your comment (Before Rain / After Rain). Is there something special on that day?
I ask because I also read the term, page 10: “Now we are approaching Gogu so I hope that you will soon send some [tea] again”.

Matt said...

Julien ÉLIE,

You are right that the foot note is a bit unclear until you look at the Chinese.

There are no formal ceremonies that take place on Gogu, rather it is simply a date (one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the Asian calendar) that is synonymous with the first spring picks of tea in Korea. Tea picked before this date is said to be of Ujeon grade (first spring pick in Korea).

So essentially, this quote is implying that the author, a famous tea master, is hoping for some high quality, Ujeon grade tea.

In exile without tea- can't blame the guy for calling in some favours. Hahaha...

Peace