Tea and Alcohol – Part II Tang Dynasty

In China, there has always been a saying that tea and wine compete for merit. But in the minds of Chinese literati, the status of tea is still above wine. Throughout the status of tea and wine in the poets’ minds, there is a process, a leading wine poetry first, tea and wine on an equal footing, to the tea dominating position. In the early Tang Dynasty, the poets used wine to boost their spirits. With the emergence of tea drinking groups such as Lu Yu and Jiao Ran, more and more poets of Tang Dynasty became associated with tea. The tea loving monk, Jiao Ran not only knew, loved and enjoyed tea, but also wrote many charming poems about tea, he thought that wein was far from tea “The elegance and purity of this tea is unknown to the world, people relying on drinking alcohol is to deceive themselves and others. 此物清高世莫知,世人饮酒多自欺 – <饮茶歌诮崔石使君>”. Jiao Ran discussed the art of tea drinking together with Lu Yu, the sage of tea, and advocated the tea tasting atmosphere of “replacing wine with tea”. He made great contributions to the development of tea culture in Tang Dynasty and later generations. Bai Juyi’s attitude towards tea and wine is more typical, “when there is no alcohol for guests to drink, 聊将茶代酒 for the moment, make do with tea instead of alcohol – <宿蓝溪对月>”, “We can know the strength of an alcoholic drink when we drive away the sorrow, we can see the effect of tea when we break the drowsiness 驱愁知酒力,破睡见茶功 – <赠东邻王十三>”, it was Bai Juyi who added a large amount of tea into the poetry world and made tea and wine keeping abreast of the world of poetry. From his poems, we can see the gradual rise and transformation of tea among literati.

  春风小榼三升酒,寒食深炉一碗茶 – Wenzhuo Liu

Like many poets in the early and middle Tang Dynasty, Bai Juyi was originally fond of drinking. According to statistics, Bai Juyi has 2800 poems, including 900 poems related to wine, and eight poems on tea and more than 50 poems on tea affairs and tea interests, both of which are more than 60. It can be seen that Bai Juyi loves wine rather than tea. It was recorded that his “茶铛 chá chēnɡ – tea griddle and wine spoon are not separated 茶铛酒勺不相离“, which reflects his good situation of tea and wine. In Bai’s poems, tea and wine do not compete for superiority, but often appear in a poem like sisters. “春风小榼三升酒,寒食深炉一碗茶 (1st Photo)Take advantage of the good sights and sounds of spring, please come to our house and have a few cups of wine. Although at the Cold Food Festival fire is forbidden, there is still hot tea in the deep stove after the fire is removed. -<自题新昌居止>” and “举头中酒后,引手索茶时 (2nd Photo) After raising the head to drink wein, it is the time to stretch out my hand to ask for tea -<和杨同州寒食坑会>”

举头中酒后,引手索茶时 – Wenzhuo Liu

Some people say that the reason why Bai Juyi liked to drink tea is that Chang’an liquor was expensive because the imperial court once banned alcohol; others say that due to the rise of tribute tea after the Mid Tang Dynasty, Bai Juyi was chasing more the fashionable trend, these arguments are all reasonable. But as a great poet, Bai Juyi’s experience from tea is not only the material function, but also the artist’s special taste. He drank tea all his life, accompanied by tea all day long. He is not only fond of drinking tea, but also good at recognizing the quality of tea, his friends call him “Tea Identified Man 别茶人 (Tea Blog)“. First of all, Bai Juyi used tea to stimulate literary thinking; second, strengthen self-cultivation with tea, his tea poems were accompanied by leisure and sorrow. Third, Bai Juyi made friends with tea. It could be seen from his poems that Bai Juyi had many tea friends, after the Mid Tang Dynasty, it was common for literati to express their friendship with tea; fourth, drinking tea and communicating Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, from which to seek philosophy.

Calligraphy of Bai Juyi’s tea poem – Wenzhuo Liu

Bai Juyi is a typical realist poet, he is more realistic about the role of tea and stimulating poetry, “夜茶一两杓,秋吟三数声 In the evening, I drink one or two scoops of tea and recite some poems about autumn – <立秋夕有怀梦得>” “或吟诗一章,或饮茶一瓯 Sometimes tasting one bowl of tea, sometimes reading one chapter of poetry – <咏意>”. These are to say that tea helps literary thinking and poetic inspiration, and refreshes the mind with tea. In turn, chanting poetry makes tea more delicious. If we carefully observe the history of Bai Juyi’s tea drinking, we can draw a conclusion: in the middle Tang Dynasty, it was a turning point from wine to tea. Therefore, by the end of Tang Dynasty, tea had already occupied an absolute advantage among literati.

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