Romantic story of buddhism & tea

Romantic Story of Buddhism & Tea

Every Chinese tea and Japanese tea lover will be familiar with this writing, in English that’s “Tea and Zen are the same feelings” or “taste Zen in Tea”, it shows the close connection between tea and Buddhism. 

Do you know where does tea come from? The legend says Xin Southern and Northern Dynasties, Dharma slept unexpectedly when he was practicing self-cultivation in Shaolin, he was so angry about that and in order to stop sleeping next time he took off his eyelids onto the ground. At the next year there was a tea tree on the ground, and the green tea leaf fell into the pan when Dharma’s Service was boiling water, and after drank tea water Dharma found he will not feel sleepy. That’s the mythic story of the origin of tea. There are some romantic stories between Buddhism and tea.

Zen and tea’s fable 

The most famous fable about Zen and tea is ZhaoZhou Monk. 

One day two monks came for learning Zen, ZhaoZhou Monk asked one of them, “have you ever been here?”


“So go to drink tea!” ZhaoZhou Monk said.

“No, I’ve not been here.” Another man answered.

“You drink tea too!” ZhaoZhou Monk said.

“Why do you let them to drink tea no matter they have been here or not?” the abbot wondered and asked.

“You go drink too!” ZhaoZhou answered.

Could you get the Zen from what ZhaoZhou Monk said? No matter you understand or not, here is another interesting fable. 

One man came to NanYin for studying Zen, NanYin welcomed him with tea, he poured tea water into cup and didn’t stop though the cup was full. The man said:” Master, the cup has been fulfilled. ” Master NanYin said :”You’re just like the cup fulfilled with your ideas, if you don’t make it empty, how can I teach you Zen?”

Why Monks obsess on tea?

Tea has three virtues: for Buddhism, it can help you touch Zen; for body, it can help digest; for soul, it can help keep your heart awake.


Tang Dynasty is a very important time for Tea and Zen, Tang is also one of the most powerful countries in the world. Its economic was powerful and the more important is that it absorbed and syncretized everything that’s excellent from other races and countries. And the most important book of tea—- Cha Jing was born in Tang as well. 

Cha Jing, also named Tea Classic, was wrote by Lu Yu in 761 AC, this book is the first book covers the whole tea circle in the world. Lu Yu has a very close connection with Buddhism, he was a foundling and was brought up by Zen Master ZhiJi, but Lu Yu didn’t like Buddhism and ran out to be the circus clown, fortunately Governor Li Qiwu recognized his gift and let him follow and learn from Zhou Fuzi, Another important man named Cui Guofu also appreciated him, they’re very important to his growing. Do you know Lu Yu was not famous for Tea but for his literature in Tang Dynasty? Surprising? It’s true. He was one of the most famous litterateurs, when he came to one city, the chief will welcome him personally. And certainly tea is one of his hobbies, his Shifu Master Zhiji loved tea very much and also was a tea Master, so Lu Yu had connection with tea in the very young age. One of Lu Yu’s best friends Jiao Ran was also a Monk, a very famous poetry Monk. If you take a look at the whole life of Lu Yu, you’ll find the birth of Cha Jing has so close connection with Buddhism. 

Could we find Dharma in tea today? 

Still we can meet Dharma in tea in the 21st Century, but you know not every one can hear his voice. In Jiuhua Anhui Province which is one of the 4 most famous Buddhism Mountains in China you can take a drink of Jiuhua Buddhism tea (Jiuhua Fo Cha), in HangZhou, you can go to JingShan Temple for JingShan tea. JingShan Tea Banquet is the origin of Japanese Tea Dao.

 In Southern Song Dynasty (about 1235 AC), Japanese Master Shenyi came to China and learned from Master Wuzun in JingShan temple. He went back and introduced The JingShan Tea Banquet to Japanese and which gradually evolved into Japanese Tea Ceremony. But for now JinShan tea in China is not so famous as in Japan.

 We have so many more famous teas like Tie Guan Yin, Buddha Hand, Da Fang tea and so on. There is a story about the source of Tie Guan Yin which is the most popular tea in China now. In Qing Dynasty an old man named Wei Yin who believe in Guanyin and offer a cup of tea everyday morning. One night he dreamed that he went out and found a tea tree near the river and at the second day he found the tea tree by tracing the way in the dream. He moved the tea tree into an iron pan. He thought the tea tree was gift of Guanyin, so named it as Iron Guanyin (Tie Guan Yin).

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