Understand tea Understand Chinese culture

Update:04 Jun 2020

There are many perspectives to discuss "tea". The Chinese tea people are familiar with Lu Yu's "Tea Sutra". This is an idea to discuss the origins, tools, utensils, cooking and drinking of tea in different categories. It regards "tea" as an object, and distinguishes the taste from the objects. According to James A. Benn, author of "Tea in China", this highlights the special voice of Chinese literati.

The "Tea in China" published by China Workers Publishing House is not very long, it seems to be a "history of tea" written from the perspective of religion and culture, but behind it is the author's ambition: it is no longer just focused on things In itself, it tries to extract the structural tension of society from the material, and then explain the development and changes of social culture. This is a paradigm of material culture research after the baptism of new cultural history, and this brief history of overseas sinologists about tea can be described as a model.

Bei Jianming found that in the Chinese cultural narrative, "tea" is a tension structure full of contradictions: on the one hand, based on the records of Lu Yu's "Cha Jing", it is recognized that tea was born in the ancient Shennong era; on the other hand It is obvious that Lu Yu did not know that the popularity of tea was just a late thing for him. Both the word tea and the word "tea" were invented in the Tang Dynasty. On the one hand, tea, as a daily drink, needs to compete fiercely with wine, medicine soup, and even coffee; on the other hand, the hidden culture represented by tea is so ethereal that people don’t bother to treat tea Economic attributes are placed on the countertop.

Tea "is a daily commodity, and it is comparable to extraordinary products. The desire to drink immortals, these two aspects of continuous and changing tension, throughout the history of tea." Although this observation is common sense, it has an extremely profound meaning for material culture: it transcends objects in the sense of appliances, and makes objects have a human color. The study of the history of tea in the traditional sense has not yet reached this point. They are more about taking tea as an object, and condensing the elegance of people from it; people are not adapted to the basic path of entanglement between objects and people-even if this idea is studied in contemporary culture Medium is already the norm. This critical vision is an innovation in the history of tea.