THE CLASSIC OF TEA by Lu Yu

THE CLASSIC OF TEA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sticking a leaf in a cup was no small deal in ancient China -- what with nine closely prescribed stages of preparation, seven of brewing, and twenty-four implements -- without a single one of which -- so this 8th century master of the tea ritual wrote -- it was better to dispense with the drink entirely. (According to Taoists, the waste of fine tea through incompetent use was one of the three most deplorable acts in the world -- along with the false education of youth and the uninformed appreciation of fine paintings!) This is not just a loving translation of the classic manual, but a fascinating glimpse into a culture of such fastidious grace that it seems more removed from ours than any future Shock society. Francis Ross Carpenter also provides an interesting introduction to the origins of tea and how it became popularized, bastardized and commercialized on the Continent and in the New World -- from medicinal elixir to breakfast drink to slang name for a drug similar to the one with which westerners finally persuaded (hooked is the better word) the Chinese to open their doors to trade.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1974
Publisher: Little, Brown