Wudang Daoists and Tea – Chen Tuan and Liu Daoming

Wenzhuo Liu

Chen Tuan, one of the most famous daoists had lived in secluded Wudang mountains to cultivate himself, <History of Song 宋史> recorded that Chen Tuan liked to drink tea, the Zhou Shi Zong emperor had rewarded him 30 Jin tea according to <History of Song · Chen Tuan Biography 宋史·陈抟传>. Chen Tuan had written <Memorial of thanks for emperor’s autograph edict, Tea and Medicine 谢手诏并赐茶药表> to Song Tai Zong emperor, which was included in <Whole History of Song 全宋史>.

Chen Tuan statue

Literatures of the Yuan Dynasty showed that Wudang daoists had planted tea trees on Wudang mountains. The author of the collection of poems <武当纪胜集>, Luo Tingzhen described in his poem <Sweet Tea 甜茶>, Wudang daoists’ self-cultivations started with bitterness, ended with sweetness and taste the flavour of immortals. The daoists there planted, harvested and processed tea locally by themselves, since this tea could make peoples’ tooth and cheeks sweet, it was called Sweet Tea “修真苦淡味仙灵,自种云腴摘玉英。亘古与人甘齿颊,春风百万亿苍生”.

Five Dragons Palace

Another poem of this collection <Qianlin Tree 骞林树> mentioned, Qianlin tea trees had jadeite branches, azure stone leaves and unique divine trees’ roots “七宝林中上界奇,枝枝翡翠叶琉璃。若非大顶居天上,安得灵根独有之”. Qianlin tea tree is the ancient name of Wudang original variety, Camellia cuspidata (Kochs) Wright ex Gard., the poem collection is also the earliest literature recording Qianlin tea trees, it would be around 1313.

Qianlin Tea Tree – Camellia cuspidata (Kochs) Wright ex Gard.

Yuan Dynasty Wudang daoist, Liu Daoming had practiced in the Five Dragons Palace for a long time, he described the Five Dragons Reception Nunnery in his <武当福地总真集>.  “七里峰,下即五龙接待庵。土花盈砌,山桂飘香,驻鹤迎宾,烹茶炊栗,一如仙家故事” Under the Qili Mountain Peak, the Nunnery is on the pilgrimage path to the Five Dragons Palace, daoists carried the Laozi’s tradition and cooked tea there to service guests “烹茶迎客”,  what a fascinating immortals’ story “仙家故事”.

Heaven Pond 天潭 of Five Dragons Temple

Liu Daoming wrote, Qianlin trees were tall and with big trunks, beautiful and green leaves, roots twining each other like wild wisteria, even artists’ works were incomparable to Qianlin trees “叶青而秀,木大而高,根株皆自然藤萝交裹之势,与画者无比。武当有二,大顶与五龙接待庵涧滨”.

Qianlin Tea Tree – Camellia cuspidata (Kochs) Wright ex Gard.

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