Saturday, October 9, 2010

Korean Tea Classics Book Club- Cha Bu- Rhapsody To Tea by Hanjae Yi Mok 7. The Six Virtues Of Tea

"Yuchuan celebrated it, Lu Yu praised it, Shengyu fulfilled his life with it, Cao Ye forgot to go home because of it."

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.

Additional Readings: Warren Peltier's notes on the historical figures mentioned in this section may be especially helpful: Korean Tea Texts, Classical and Modern [ii]: The Cha Bu of Hanjae Yi Mok



Unknown said...

As I opened the book to where it is bookmarked I realized I forgot to participate in the last section. That will be remedied shortly (hopefully).

I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind, but none directly relate this text to tea. Most notibly is this section would be near meaningless to me without the foot notes, and with the foot notes it tells an almost comical story.

Most notably the last two sentences paint the picture of Wine/ alcohol as the destroyer of virtue, but Tea as the exact opposite.

Gingko said...

These are beautiful books!

Matt said...


Yes, Hanjae Yi Mok's audience was most definitely the other brainy literati. The historical depth of Cha Bu allows it to be enjoyed many times on many different levels.

One highly recommends following the link at the bottom of this post to Warren Peltier's Article on Cha Bu. He dedicates a whole section to these historical figures called Historical Figures Mentioned in the Six Virtues of Tea. In this section he explains the life events that Hanjae Yi Mok is likely alluding to as well as some wikipedia links and some basic background on each historical figure mentioned in this section.

The comparison between alcohol and tea is an interesting one. Throughout the history of East Asia they have always been seen as very similar. Tea ware and alcohol wares share many similarities and have definitely influenced each other. They were both used as for social, medicinal, and ritual purposes. Often throughout history one replaced another in the same context. And they also represent opposite effects on the body and mind. Tea being a stimulant and alcohol being a depressant.


Please do join in on the conversation! You have a unique and very knowledgeable perspective on tea.


Matt said...


Sorry, forgot the 'g'.


Gingko said...

I would love to join the book club! Just placed an order of the two books in your picture and another book. This past summer, when I was with two Korean tea friends who explore tea in Beijing, they told me tea is Not very popular in Korea and is mostly enjoyed among Buddhists. I was a little shocked by that notion. I will tell them about these books!

Matt said...


" tea is Not very popular in Korea and is mostly enjoyed among Buddhists "

This is true, instant coffee is much, much more popular in Korea. The Classics translated in Korean Tea Classics are widely known by those in tea circles in Korea. Multiple Korean translations exist so your Korean friends probably know about it. Next time you sit down with them you'll have a lot of interesting stuff to talk about.


Ho Go said...

It is ironic that these translations are done by a Christian Brother who is not a Buddhist but an avid tea drinker. I met many non-Buddhist tea drinkers in Korea but what is rarer are Koreans who can talk about the types of teas that we outside of Korea drink and talk about daily. It seemed the most popular non-Korean tea was matcha with Puerh on its heels.

Matt said...


You are right. The popularity of puerh is really growing in Korea, matcha is already fairly popular in tea circles, but as you said, the chances of even a teamaster possessing a large amount of foreign tea other than these is rare. Darjeeling also seems to be making inroads in Korea these days.


Rebekah said...

A backward sort of way to feel some of the force of allusion to famous figures, for those of us who don't know them, would be to read the passage and imagine filling in names from stories we know.

The way alcohol gets dissed in just 3 (2?) lines, after all that praise, packs a punch, and once again, the photograph is a lovely reward for taking time with the footnotes. In lines 2-7 the word order frames each sentence with the same beginning and end terms. There's something about an orderly, comprehensive, elegantly varied list that just can't be beat.

Matt said...


Hahaha... One did as you recommended and placed names of modern day pop culture references into the first paragraph and it was quite amusing!

Hanjae Yi Mok is a master of lists. Really, most of Cha-Bu is a list of facts or opinions. Hanjae Yi Mok has a writing style that brings these lists to life. Even the long lists in section two and three are much, much more than simply lists of facts- they have a very deliberate arrangement and are present with intent. Thanks for drawing our attention to this issue.


Matt said...


Notes on section 7:

The first paragraph is full of personifying tea by alluding to famous historical figures and connecting them to their most known attributes. Although today we may not know all the historical figures, back in Hanjae Yi Mok's time these historical figures were likely all very well known. Even in China today people would know most, if not all of the historical references mentioned here- they are the heavy hitters of China's rich past, and they stick out.

The quote used is from the second paragraph. Here Hanjae Yi Mok drops the names of the most famous tea writers. The blip that follows their names are in reference to either their most famous works or other famous literary pieces that feature them.

"5 kinds of Harm" may be a reference to the five kinds of actions that can damage different energetic systems of the body such as sitting too long, standing too long, stressing too long, grieving too long, and reading too long. Or perhaps they refer to the five health pathogens of Chinese thought which are wind, heat, dampness, dryness, and dampness. These "five kinds of harm" are physical harm.

"8 Truths" may be a reference to the Buddhists 8 fold path- the proper view, intention, speech, behaviour, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. These "eight truths" are have a mental and spiritual nature. The reference to Buddhism seems a bit unlikely though, as it would be the only Buddhist reference in the whole book...

"I can enjoy it with the people of ancient times" is a statement on how tea transcends time and space. After all, as we read Cha-Bu aren't we doing so- sitting down on a mat across from Hanjae Yi Mok, sipping tea as he composes his rhapsody?

The last few lines deal with the comparison of alcohol and tea- see commentary above.


Anonymous said...

Reading Warren Peltier's notes on the historical figures (the link you provided), I find out that the history of Bai Yi / Boyi (伯夷) is totally different from what the note in the book mentions (with two brothers, whereas Warren does not speak about such brothers).

Matt, in the five health pathogens you hint at, “cold” should replace one “dampness”.

Couldn't the eight truths be the eight treatment rules? Diaphoresis (han fa), emesis (tu fa), purgation (xia fa), equilibration (he fa), heating (wen fa), cooling (qing fa), tonification (bu fa) and dissipation (xiao fa).

I love the parallelism in the second paragraph between the shine of “spring sunlight” and “autumn moon”.

Matt said...

Julien ÉLIE,

Yes, "cold" should replace "dampness"- thanks for catching that typo.

"Couldn't the eight truths be the eight treatment rules?"

One thought about this possibility but ruled it out. The statement "enables progress in the eight truths" seems to allude to something more spiritual than treatment protocols. It seems more likely that the five kinds of harm are either physical or spiritual in nature and that the eight truths are likely spiritual- something that someone can strive towards, make "progress" on. Each (or maybe both) representing a physical and spiritual side.

Still one doesn't know with confidence exactly what Han Jae Yi Mok is referring to by "five kinds of harm" and "eight truths".

Anyone have any other ideas?