Wuyi Cha is not either a name of tea variety or a tea product, but a synonym of the tea industry in Northern Fujian. This synonym represents the legend in the tea history of China as well as the world. Because of the Wuyi Cha, Chinese tea has been elevated to unprecedented heights. However, many tea culture researchers have been carried too much humility for years when commenting Wuyi Cha.
For some examples to show the importance of Wuyi Cha: in “All about Tea” written by Ukers, Wuyi Cha is the first Chinese tea that was transported to Europe; Wuyi Cha is also the main role in the Boston Tea Party; The first detected tea component is named after Wuyi (Acid Bohea); Some tea seeds in India and Pin Cha is originated from Wuyi Cha; Wuyi Cha was greatly praised by ancient literati in China and around the world……These are all because of the peak period of Chinese tea history generated by Wuyi Tea the its great contribution to tea history of the world. Of course, the peak period does not mean stagnation or depression, but the solid base for the next peak period that is even more glorious. “Peak” is the exact word that should be used to describe the Wuyi Tea in my opinion. Someone may doubt that the reputation of Wuyi Tea plunged in some periods through the history, such as early Ming Dynasty when loose tea replaced the group tea and the unstable period at the end of Qing Dynasty. That is true. Yet the downturn of Wuyi tea is exactly when it coiled like a spring and ready to go for a brand new glory time. That is why Wuyi Tea stepped up on the stage of Chinese tea history and became the milestone and handhold of the tea culture history all over the world. Conversely, some of the famous tea was just popular for some time and finally disappeared.
Tea at Jianan is peerless in the world
Thousands of years ago in Northern Song dynasty, Tribute Tea at Taihu area was not able to germinate before the Qing Ming Festival (in April) due to the cold weather. It made the royalty unsatisfied and therefore led the migration of tea garden to Jianan. Since then, the Beiyuan Royal Tea Garden, planted since the first year of Min Kingdom during Five Dynasties (AD 933), started the first glory time in Chinese tea history. After four dynasties, till Hong Wu 24th year of Ming dynasty (AD 1391), a culture miracle has formed during these 458 years——a birthplace of the greatest group tea producing technology in China.
“Royal Tribute tea cake is peerless all over the world. It is even beyond the top from the tea picking methods, making technology, grading and brewing”. This shows the preciousness of royal group tea in Wang Anshi’s eyes, even he was an enormously powerful political leader at that time. The ones who had the honor to taste the royal Tribute tea would feel elation and enjoy the exhilaration, while the poor guys without that luck could only imagine all of those feelings. Moreover, Chinese Tribute Tea production was becoming specialized and institutionalized. At the time of Emperor Huizong, tea brewing and tasting prevailed just like the painting at that time, which was extremely delicate, exquisite, and even reach the peak of perfection.
Tea art and culture also reached a new level at the glory time of Tribute Tea. More than 20 written works were mainly about regional tea discussion, including “Chalu” by Cai Xiang, “Dongxishichalu” by Song Zian, “Beiyuanbielu” by Zhao Ruili, “Daguanchalun” by Song Huizong, “Pinchayaolu” by Huang Ru, “Xuehebeiyuangongchalu” by Xiong Fan, and etc. However, these works showed the glory of the tea art that had been never seen before, and never would again. Some of these works talked about the beauty of the tea; some admired the exquisiteness of the tea set; and some praised the quality of Jianan tea. Until now, recent tea study still needs to refer these works. What is better known is the glamorous tea culture at that time, as well as the enhancement and interaction among tea culture, poem culture and Chan culture. The unique “tea poem” at poetry generated at that time was full of hope, interest and detachment, or expressed relaxed and quiet feeling. Tea and the people, quality, event, spirit, feeling, rule, interest, manner and ceremony of tea were all shown in the tea poem. Wuyi culture is famous for Ru Shi and Dao, and Wuyi scenery is known for mountain, water and tea. The quantity of tea poem was extraordinary. Among all of them, the Wuyi tea poem was the most special and could be found in the works of so many libretti from royalty to Lin Bu, Yang Yi, Fan Zhongyan, Yan Shu, Mei Yaochen, Ouyang Xiu, Zeng Gong, Su Song, Wang Anshi, Su Dongpo and his brother, Huang Tingjian, Qin Guan, Li Qingzhao, Lu You, Zhou Bida, Yang Wanli, and Zhu Xi, to Yelv Chucai and Sadula in Yuan dynasty. Even though the group tea was replaced by loose tea at early Ming dynasty, the voice of missing and regret kept going. Artisan and poet generously praised the Wuyi tea so much. The libertti discovered the beauty of the tea, and also established the criteria of this beauty. Libretti’s preference made the Wuyi tea not just a kind of drink, but also a type of culture, and pushed the tea from material level to spiritual level, forming the beauty of the tea culture. Famous tea, mountain and libretti shed lights on each other, and remained famous for thousand of years.