Peach Blossom Tea 桃花茶 – Song Dynasty Tea Poem by Su Shi

Wenzhuo Liu

It has rained several times, last night’s thunder ended the continuous spring rain and awakened thousands of tea trees. Tea trees compete with each other for growing most fresh and tender tea buds, the spring color in Jianxi could occupy the first place, what a vibrant landscape.


Tea Set painted by Shen An – Song Dynasty

Take the fresh and tender tea buds from the top of tea trees, the tea buds look like sparrow’s tongues, roll and mash these tea buds, along with the dew from heaven and earth, and the smoke from cloud and mist, then press into purple tea cakes. Break off a few pieces of a tea cake, put into the gold roller and gently crush into powders. When rolling, the green smoke particles from the tea powders flies into the air, which is a very beautiful view.


Tea Cake – Song Dynasty

The aged Dragon tea cake is the real Green Fengsui- Phoenix Essential tea, please, make me a teapot of this good tea. A drink of this delicious tea soup in the special cup, its inside glaze  looks like full of shining rabit hairs, this drink makes me immediately feel the strong sweet after taste between my teeth and cheek. My good friend, Qingzhou feels full of energy without any fatigue, I even feel fresh winds crossed my arms and I am going to fly to the Penglai immortal mountain.


Tea Cake – Song Dynasty

Su Shi 苏轼 (1037-1101) from Meishan in Sichuan was named Zizhan and Dongpo Scholar etc.. He was a famous writer and painter in the Song Dynasty, one of the eight great writers in the Tang and Song dynasties and a representative of the highest literary achievements in the Song Dynasty. He made great achievements in poetry, prose, calligraphy, painting and so on, he also had a deep research on food and tea as a real gourmet and as a tea expert, wrote hundred of tea related poems.

Su Shi Portrait painted by Li Gonglin – Song Dynasty

Since he was relegated in December of the 2nd year of Yuanfeng (A.D. 1079), and he came to Huangzhou Hubei province in next early February and then cultivated 50 Mu land on the east slope outside the city and built a house there. Because it was built in a heavy snow, he painted the snow scene on the wall and named the house Xuetang – Snow Hall, wrote “Dongpo Xuetang” as a plaque. Later on he went hundreds kilometers to Daye Hubei province for begging some tea seeds, which were planted beside the Snow Hall. This tea poem <Prelude to Water Melody · Try Daye’s Peach Blossom Tea 水调歌头·尝问大冶乞桃花茶> describes the Song Dynasty tea making scenes, from a vibrant tea harvest to a spiritual tea experience. After he wrote this famous poem, because of the poet’s fame, Daye’s peach blossom tea has been famous for a thousand of years.

Grinding Tea Picture 撵茶图 painted by Liu Songnian – Southern Song Dynasty

More about: Song Dynasty Tea Ceremony

Jian Tea mentioned in Su Shi’s letter (photo) was named after Jianxi River Basin in Fujian Province, and in history, it belonged to Jianzhou, Fujian Province. This area was famous for tea, tea bowl, cut blocks for printing, book, plate and wood. The tea producing area was mainly in Jianzhou Jian’an county (now Jian’ou)’s Beiyuan Fenghuang Mountains in Song Dynasty. Beiyuan tribute tea was famous all around, it was the longest tea in the history of imperial tribute in China. Beiyuan tribute tea has been the most popular tea in China for 458 years.

Su Shi‘s Handwriting Calligraphy – mentioned Jian Zhou wood tea mortar

In many of the great stories of Jian’ou traditional tea culture, there are also a large number of poems praising Jian  tea, Jian tea bowl and Jian’an tea fighting, the high number of poems and famous poets are all unique in the history of Chinese literature. According to statistics, there are about 20 monographs on tea research in Song Dynasty, among which 13- 14  are devoted to Jian tea, including: Cai Xiang’s <Tea Records>, Zhao Ji (Emperor Huizong of Song Dynasty)’s <Treatise on Tea>…

PS:  A very similar tea poem was found by accident, the author of the poem named <Prelude to Water Melody · Tea Chanting” was Bai Yuchan (1134-1229), a famous Taoist in the Southern Song Dynasty. “二月一番雨,昨夜一声雷。枪旗争展,建溪春色占先魁。采取枝头雀第舌,带露和烟捣碎,炼作紫金堆。碾破香无限,飞起绿尘埃。汲新泉,烹活火,试将来;放下兔毫瓯子,滋味舌头回。唤醒青州从事,战退睡魔百万,梦不到阳台。两腋清风起,我欲上蓬莱。”

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