The history and culture of Kung Fu Black Tea

The Chinese people are known for mastering the art of drinking tea. According to ancient Chinese documents, Chinese people have been drinking tea for at least 4,000 years. In the ancient book “Erya” it was written, “the tea leaves that were picked early are tea, and those that were picked later are bitter tea.” Harvesting tea was also mentioned in the chapter of “July” in the “Classic of Poetry.” After the two Han dynasties, drinking tea has become vastly popular. But it was even more popularized in the Tang dynasty. During that period, Chinese people started holding tea parties, and tea banquets. Lu Yu even wrote “The Classic of Tea,” which summarizes the theories about drinking tea. Ever since then, tea drinking has become very popular and common in China. Therefore, Lu Yu is considered the “God of tea” by future generations of Chinese people. In “Chao Jia feng yue ji,” it was written, “the proper way to brewing a Kung Fu Tea comes from Lu Yu’s “The Classic of Tea.” And its brewing tools are even more delicate.” Based on this description, Kung Fu Tea probably started after the Tang dynasty. Even though the phrase Kung Fu Tea and its definition are included in the modern version of Cihai, and the English word “tea” comes from the Chinese word for tea in the Shantou and Xiamen dialect, there are very few detailed descriptions about Kung Fu Tea. Not even the “Documentation of the Chaozhou agency” mentions Kung Fu Tea. It is really a shame.

From what our current research can prove so far, even though the Chaozhou region has been harvesting rice 5 times a year before the Yuan dynasty, it was not growing any tea. The 5,343th chapter of the Yongle Encyclopedia, which is also the earliest “documentation of Chaozhou” that we can see now. Under its taxation section, it quoted the “San Yang documentation with pictures.” (San Yang is Hai Yang, which is today’s Chao An, Chao Yang and Jie Yang). “San Yang documentation” and “San Yang documentation with pictures” are now lost to us. But the very little of the “Yongle Encyclopedia” that survived the disasters happen to have a “documentation of Chaozhou” in it. And this documentation happens to have quoted the original “San Yang documentation” many times. And that’s why it is so precious to us. By looking at the original text, we can conclude that the “San Yang documentation” is a historical document about these three counties during the Yuan dynasty. It is written in it, “Ever since Yu the Great, we receive tea as an offering from foreign lands, and we receive more tea now than the other dynasties before us including Han, Wei, Jing and Liang dynasties. Starting in the Tang dynasty, people like Zao Zan Pang, Wong Lou and Wong Ya created regulations concerning tea and its industry. And in the Song dynasty, they implemented tax laws for tea. And then taxes on tea started to be complicated and heavy. Where there grow tea, there are taxes. And taxes is meaningless if there doesn’t produce tea. ChaoZhou is a county, but there isn’t any tea growers, nor any tea merchants, but we still have tea taxation laws implemented here. As soon as one realizes this, how can one not think about it and try to come up with a way to fix this problem? …” This text proved that Chaozhou did not used to grow tea during the Yuan dynasty. And it doesn’t matter that they didn’t used to grow tea there. Because Chaozhou’s Kung Fu Tea doesn’t use tea leaves grown in Chaozhou. But it is problematic that they didn’t used to have any tea merchants there. And if the “San Yang documentation” is true, then it is very likely that the people in Chaozhou did not used to enjoy Kung Fu Tea back in the Yuan dynasty.

And after the Qing dynasty, it’s become widely known to Chinese people everywhere that the people in Chaozhou love their tea, and that their Kung Fu Tea is famous and that a large number of the Chaozhou people are in the tea business. In the “Chao Jia feng yue ji” that was written in the Qing dynasty, it was said that, “the proper way to brewing a Kung Fu Tea comes from Lu Yu’s “The Classic of Tea.” And its brewing tools are even more delicate. There is one brewing stove and one china plate. Then you would have as many cups as the number of guests you have. You have to put the water in the water pot first, and bring it to a boil with tiny pieces of coal. And then you put the tea leaves from the Fujian province into the tea pot and pour water into the tea pot. After you put the lid on the tea pot, you pour hot water over it a few times. Then you can pour the tea from the tea pot and taste it in small sips. The fragrance of tea is pleasant and strong. It tastes better than chewing cherry blossoms.