Saturday, October 2, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok 6. The Five Merits Of Tea


"If the taste of tea is long-lasting and deep, how can we avoid talking of its merits?"

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

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

All,

The notion that “the taste of tea is long-lasting” originated in the Chajing 茶經, Book of Tea, by the Tang poet and tea master Lu Yü 陸羽. Part 5 of the Book is subtitled “Brewing” wherein was written: “The first bowl is qüanyong 雋永, a taste that is full flavored and long lasting.” As a poet, Lu Yü used “full flavored and long lasting” in the sensual as well as poetic sense. The literary meaning of qüanyong 雋永 conveyed the idea of the “profound and eternal” and expressed a beautiful and ageless quality. Hence, fine tea was imbued with a wondrous flavor that lingered on and on.

Steve.

Ho Go said...

"If the taste of tea is long-lasting and deep, how can we avoid talking of its merits?"

Now, that is something I can relate to! :)

Matt said...

All,

Steven hit on why one chose this quote- it has more than just a solely sensual meaning. "long-lasting and deep" suggests that tea has a eternal, profound quality to it as Steve mentioned.

It is interesting to compare this with section 8. Epilogue to get a feeling of the profound, moving effect that tea has on Hanjae Yi Mok.

You could say that the "taste of tea" is so "long-lasting" that we continue to discuss it thousands of years later. The "taste of tea" is so "deep" that no matter how much we learn about tea, we still can't completely understand it.

Peace

Rebekah said...

I love the range in this chapter, from worldly to spiritual: 1) Ascetic scholarship, 2) illness and hardship, 3) diplomacy and politics, 4) meditation and desire, 5) excesses in deluxe entertainment.

The long-lasting quality of tea includes the comments each of you has been making on all these chapters. Continued thanks....

Matt said...

Rebekah,

Hanjae Yi Mok really paints a wonderful broad picture of the many different situations in which tea is enjoyed. Thanks for drawing our attention to this diversity. Tea is diverse indeed.

Peace

Matt said...

All,

Notes on section 6:

Hanjae Yi Mok really pulls us into five stories or pictures that reveal the five merits of tea. His writing style is such that we can truly feel the plight of the historical figures involved even if just presented in a few sentences.

He presents five merits of tea. The first merit is that tea quenches thirst, a physical response to tea. He uses imagery of the driest of places- libraries were always kept extraordinarily dry, and of the driest season- the fall season is the dries in China to paint this picture.

The second merit is that tea consoles the lonely heart. In Eastern thought, the heart is the house of the spirit, it is both physical and mental. So this paragraph suggests that tea comforts the body, mind, and spirit.

The third merit is that tea brings host and guest closer together. To this day, conversation simply is easier around the tea table.

One sees the fourth merit as one (or combination) of three things.

Firstly, tea ensures good digestion/ protects against parasites. Often those that were practicing esotericism in the forests faced the real threat of parasitic attack, tea curbed these risks.

Secondly, tea cools the Kidneys thereby checking sexual desire. If the "desire and passions" refer to sexual desire than this fourth merit may referring to teas ability to cool burning sexual desire.

Thirdly, tea strengthens resolve. "Meditating amongst sharp rocks and distilling the essence of pine roots" sounds like a pretty crude existence. This fourth merit might be referring to the fact that tea strengthens someone mentally, similar to the idea expressed in the second merit.

The fifth merit is that tea relives a hangover. A merit that is most prized by freshman university students to this very day.

Peace

Adam Yusko said...

As to the 5th merit, should it be much more well known I could probably offer a great service to the people living near me partying 4 or 5 nights a week, its a wonder I can get to sleep some nights!

But the fourth merit in particular reminds me of a discussion in a Zen Buddhism class I took. Sadly I am not sure from which book the discussion came or I would provide a bit more on the discussion. But it involves the red thread running through all our lives (red thread meaning desires). The hard part is we need to accept that the red thread is always there, but we need to learn to live with our passions and not let them control us.

Matt said...

Adam,

You likely discussed this book?:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=W03rYFlgPCYC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=red+thread+desires+Buddhism&source=bl&ots=f6ii3Cr0d8&sig=_7EGwVsLNSE1ROnEX25vKm6g-WQ&hl=en&ei=VLewTILcJ4S0sAP3pcm8Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false

A famous English piece on Buddhism and sexuality.

Peace

Adam Yusko said...

Matt,

Sadly no it was not that book, in reflecting a bit more on the piece I think it was a story from "Bring me the Rhinoceros." Which looks into peoples experiences with koans, one of which involves discussion of a Buddhist monk in San Fransico. Though I wonder if part of the discussion in that story had to do with that book.

Julien ÉLIE said...

I appreciate the climax in places and people:

1 - royal library, us (anyone)
2 - royal palace, prose writer (Zou Yang)
3 - various lands, Emperor
4 - mountains, hermits and immortals

It seems we reached the top.
And now, come back to drunken people, after the desire rumbles and passions of the former ones:

5 - Golden Valley and Rabbit Garden, us (anyone)


Well, maybe it is a bit over-interpreted…



The fifth merit is that tea relives a hangover. A merit that is most prized by freshman university students to this very day.

Incidentally, do we know what is the substance in tea that permits to drain alcohol and its effects?
All kinds of teas?

Matt said...

Julien ÉLIE,

"Well, maybe it is a bit over-interpreted"

Hahaha... over-interpreted, that's the spirit!

"do we know what is the substance in tea that permits to drain alcohol and its effects?
All kinds of teas?"

Tea is a natural diuretic, also it is naturally detoxifying. It goes to the Liver and is draining especially teas with cooler thermal nature. Tea follows nature's rules and nature dictates its function.

Peace