The Creation of a Tea Aesthetic in Tang Dynasty Verse
- James A. Benn
- 7 December 2017
- China Seminar
- Lipsius Building
2311 BD Leiden
The values associated with tea today - that it is natural, health-giving, detoxifying, spiritual, stimulating, refreshing, and so on - are not new concepts. We find them already in
the poetry of the Tang dynasty (618-907). In tea poetry we can catch a glimpse of the cultural synergy created by literati, poets, and Buddhist monks gathering to share and
construct new standards of connoisseurship and creativity, as well as to develop new themes and imagery. Surviving poems describe the color, aroma, and taste of the beverage; methods for preparing tea; the shape of teaware; settings for drinking tea; appreciation of the various
aesthetic, medicinal, and psychoactive qualities of the beverage; as well as the world of tea growing, picking, and preparation.
James A. Benn is Professor at Department of Religious Studies of McMaster University and Director of McMaster University Centre for Buddhist Studies. He is author of Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History (University of Hawai'i Press, 2015), Burning for the Buddha: Selfimmolation in Chinese Buddhism (University of Hawai'i Press, 2007), editor of a number of edited volumes, most recent being Images, Relics and Legends: the Formation and Transformation of Buddhist Sacred Sites. Essays in Honour of Professor Koichi Shinohara (Mosaic Press,
2012), and author of multiple academic articles and essays.