Wen Zhen Heng's book : Zhang Wu Zhi

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Wen Zhen Heng(1585-1645) was a Ming dynasty author. His book Zhang Wu Zhi (On Superfluous Things) written from 1621-1627 is a classic book on life style. There are several sections on this book about tea and water The latest edition of Zhang Wu Zhi was published in May, 2004, by Shangdong Pictorial Publishing House

Wen Zhen Heng's book: Zhang Wu Zhi


Wen Zhenheng

Wen Zhen Heng calligraphy scroll

Wen Zhen Heng's great grand father was famous Ming dynasty author, painter Wen Zhen Ming

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), December 29, 2004


Article 11: On Tea Hut

Build a small hut near a house on a hill, furnished with teawares. Hire a boy as tea servant to take care of tea errands. In order for the guests chatting all day long or sit in solitary, this is of utmost important for people retired from office. From Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi Vol 1: On Housing

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), December 29, 2004.

On Celestial Spring

Celetial Spring ( rain from the sky) in Autumn is the best, followed by monsoon season rain water. Autumn rain water is clear and cool, monsson season rain water is clear and sweet. In Spring and Winter seasons, spring time water is superior to winter water, because the weather is mild and the rain is sweet. The water from thunderstorm Summer is quite harmful, probably because of the thunder storm caused by evil dragon turmoil. Snow is the essense of crops, hence harvest snow to brew tea is great, however you must avoid new snow, as it may have the odor of the earth; slightly aged snow is much better Collect celetial water with cloth, however do not collect under the eaves, rather collect in the center of courtyard

From Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi (On Superfluous Things)

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), December 29, 2004.

On Quality of Tea

There were several dozens of authors wrote about tea, ( Tang dynasty) Lu Yu's Book of Tea and (Song dynasty) Chai Rang's Tea Record are among the best. However at that time, tea was processed by ripe grinding and molding hence the terms "Dragon and Phenix cake"[1], "Baby Dragon Cake", "Dense Cloud Dragon", "Flying Dragon in the Cloud". Until the Xuen He era of Song Dynasty people began to consider white tea[2] as superior. Zheng Ko Jian, the man in charge of marine transportation first invented "Silver Thread Ice Sprout" tea, made by discarding the leaves only to pick the cores, then soaked in clear spring water,without various fragrance such as dragon brain, then molded with pattern of curling baby dragon on it, hence the name "Superlative Snow Dragan Cake" . At that time these methods were deemed perenial. But in our(Ming) dynasty the tradition has changed, our brewing method is also different from the ancient. Our method is utmost simple, full of natural fun, truly exhaust the genuine flavour of tea. As for washing tea, prepare water, choice of utensil, there are various methods, not simply limited to profuse talk about "Wu Fu" charcoal container, "Yun Tun" water container, "Ku Jie Jun" bamboo stove or "Jian Chen" tea container.

From Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi Vol 12.



[1] During Tang and Song dynasties, tea was pressed into cake or ball form. The following is a diagram of a "Big Dragon Cake" made with round brass mold

Big Dragon Cake in Song dynasty

[2]White tea is the rarest tea see White tea

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), December 29, 2004.

Tiger Hill Tea and Heaven Pool Tea

"Tiger Hill" is the finest tea in the world, pity that the production quantity is rather small, also controlled by government office. Lone mountainer got hold of a pot of two as rare tea. However its taste is actually second to "Heaven Pool" tea.

Those from Dragon Pool are fine, those from the South Hill are the earliest, with a bit of grass scent

From Wen Zhen Heng: On Superfluous Things, Zhang Wu Zhi

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), December 29, 2004.

The Jie Tea[1]

Jie Tea from Chang Xing of Zhejiang is superb and highly regarded, though rather pricy. Those from Jing Qi[2] is slighttly inferior.

When picking tea, there is no need to pick too fine leaves, too fine tea leaves are nascent and lack flavour. Also void leaves which are too green, as they are too old and have lost tenderness in flavour. It is best to pick the leaves which are greenish roundish and thick. Do not dry them in the sun, rather bake them with charcoal fire, cool down with a fan then stored in container lined with ruo[3] leaves and keep it on a high place, because tea relish warmth and dry abhor cool and dampness.

Notes: [1] "Jie" is the short hame for "Luo Jie" Luo Jie was the name of a mountain bordering Zhejiang and Jing Qi prefactures (in Ming dynasty) , "jie"-- meant boundary. Chang Xin was south of Luo Jie mountain, Jing Qi was north of Luo Jie. Chang Xin retains its name till today. Luo Jie tea from Gu Chu mountain in Chang Xing county in Zhejiang was also known as Gu Chu Voilet Shoot. Gu Chu Voilet Shoot had being imperial tribute tea Since Tang dynasty for nearly nine hundred years until the middle of Qin dynasty. Gu Chu Voilet Shoot has being revived again in the seventies as a top grade tea in China

[2] Jin Qi is now called Yi Xin township. Jin Qi tea was also known as Yang Xian tea

[3] Ruo leave: Leaves from Indocalamus tessellatus bamboo

The leave is about 45 cm long.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi

martin tai

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 08, 2005.

Liu An Tea

"Liu An" [1] tea, great for medicine: if not baked right, it cannot let out aroma and has a bitter taste. The inherent quality of this tea is actually quite good.


[1]: Liu An is the name of a county in Anhui. Liu An tea is still produced from Liu An county in Anhui province in China. The Liu An tea from the Bat Cave of Jin Zai county is of superior quality, as thousand of bats in the cave provide ideal fertilizer for tea plants.

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 08, 2005.

Song Luo[1] Tea

There is'nt any real Song Luo tea outside an area of a dozen mu [1], only one or two family posses the refined skill to prepare Song Luo tea. Lately the tea hand baked by mountain monks is even better.

Real Song Luo tea is produced at the foot of the Dong Shan [ Cave Hill ] and on top of the Tian Chi[Heaven Pool], highly treasured by people in Xin An county [2]. It is also a favourite for the people of Nan Du and Qu Zong counties, due to its ease in brewing and intense aroma.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi, vol 12: On Scent and Tea

[1] Song Luo tea is manufactured at Song Luo mountain located north of Xiu Ming township in An Hui proovince in China. The tea farms are scattered between six to seven hundred meter height on the mountain.

[2] One mu = 667 square meter

[3] Now Xiu Ning county in An Hui province

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 09, 2005.

Dragon Well [1] tea and Eyes on Heaven [2] Tea

Long Jin and Tian Mu, because cold season comes earlier to the mountains, there is abundant snow in the winter, hence the tea plants germinate later, if picked and baked properly, may match Heaven Pool tea.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi [1] Long Jin tea is manufactured in the West Lake district in Hangzhou city, China. There is a Long Jin [Dragon Fountain] foutain on the Feng Huang mountain.

[2] Tian Mu mountain is located in Lin An county in the north west of Zhejiang province. There are two peaks of fifteen hundred meter height, each with a pond on top filled with crystal clear water, look like a pair of eyes, hence the name of Eyes on Heaven.

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), January 10, 2005.

Wash Tea

First boiled water, wait a while till it cools down, use it to rinse tea and clean dust, save the tea leaves in a settling bowl[1], till it cools down, then steep, the aroma will release naturally.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi ( On Superfluous Things)

[1] Also called "tea container", used for sheltering rinsed tea.

-- martin (gisling@hotmail.com), January 19, 2005.

Preparation of Water

One should simmer water with a slow fire, boil water with a living fire. A living fire is a charcoal fire with flames. When fish eyes[1] start appearing , it is "first boiling ", when the the fringe of the water pot starts gushing, it is "second boiling", when roaring and spilling, it is "third boiling"

If the fire was just kindled, and the water pot is barely warm, then hastily lift the water pot to pour, the water odor still lingers, this is "tender water" ; if water boiled ten times over it has lost its essence, this is "tough water" , both kind of water cannot bring out the aroma of tea.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi ( On Superfluous Things)

[1]. Fish eyes: A term use frequently in ancient Chinese books on tea, it describes vividly the state of water when tiny bubbles appear on the water surface, like fish eyes.

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 21, 2005.

Cleaning tea wares

Stained tea bottle or tea cup may impair the flavour of tea; hence one must first clean the tea wares, wipe them clean with cloth then put aside ready for use.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi ( On Superfluous Things ), 1621 AD. Ming dynasty

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 21, 2005.

Tea Washer

A tea washer is made from clay, it resembles a bowel with two layers, the base of its top layer has numerous holes. Used for washing tea, sand and dust all flow out from these holes, most convenient.

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 22, 2005.

Tea stove and water kettle

Some of Mme Jiang's[1] tea stoves were made from cast bronze, some with beast head motif, some plain; other bronze stoves were casted in the shape of three legged urn, all are useful.

The best water kettle is made of lead, tin kettle comes second, copper one can also be used. The one shaped like a bamboo tube is fireproof and easy to pour. Although porcelain kettle does not take away the essense of water, yet it is unsuitable, and not elegant looking.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi ( On Superfloous Things), chapter 12.

[1] Mme Jiang's tea stoves made in Yuan dynasty were famous for their high quality and exquisite design.

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 23, 2005.

Tea Pot

The best tea pot is made from clay, not only does not take awy aroma, but also has no ripe water odor.

"Gong Chun"[1] pots are most expensive, however their style is unrefined, also lack smaller size ones.

The pots made by Shi Dabing[2] are yet too small, only if one can find an antique looking and clean pot which can hold half a litre of water, that would be most suitable for pouring tea. Various pots with tasteless patterns such as "Ti Liang", "Lying melon", "Twin pear", "Fan cover", "Octogon with small flowers", "Tin inlaid tea pot", "Blue flower on white" etc should be avoided.

Zhao Liang Bi[3] tin jar is fine too, but more suitable for the winter months. Recently, Wu Zhong[5] county Gu's tin pot and Jia Ho county Wong's tin pot, fetched highest price, however rather small and vulgar. Gold or silver pots are all not in style.

Tranlated from Wen Zhen Heng :Zhang Wu Zhi ( On Superfluous Things) chapter 12.

[1] Gong Chun, the grandmother of Yixing tea pot during Ming dynasty Wan Li era (1573-1619). [2] Shi Dabing, considered the greatest master of Yixing pot, son of Shi Peng, a comtemporary of Gong Chun. Initially, Shi Dabing imitated Gong Chun and made large size Yixing tea pots, later created his own style tiny tea pots [3] Zhao Liang Bi, Ming dynasty master craftsman of tin jar in Wu Zhong county ( now in Sozhou province )

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 23, 2005.

Tea Cup

Emperor Xuan Zhong reign [1] tea cups with pointed footings are of superior quality and style, solid and not easily cool off, they are as white as jade, great for check out the color of tea. This is number one tea cup

Emperor Shi Zhong reign [2] altar cups made for tea, fruit juice and wine, the one with inscription "Gold Charm Ceremony Altar " is fine as well.

White Ding Kiln[3] tea cups are collectibles not for day to day use. Due to the fact that a cup for steeping tea ought to be warmed up in order to creat milky foams on the surface of tea, porcelain ware from ancient kiln may be damaged by heating, this is something one ought to bear in mind.

There are also pots made by Old Man Chui's Kiln, somewhat larger, can be used as container for fruit and nuts; the fruits must be limitd to those which do not take away aroma such as filbert seeds, pine seeds, fresh bamboo shoots, chicken peas and lotus seeds; tangerine, orange and jasmine are positively out.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng:Zhang Wu Zhi (On Superfluous Things) Chapter 12

[1] Emperor Xuan Zhong reign : 1426-1449

[2] Emperor Shi Zhong reign 1523-1565

[3] Ding Kiln was founded in Tang dynasty, it became one of the most famous kilns in North Song Dynasty.

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 23, 2005.

Choice of Charcoal

Water for steeping tea abhors smoke, therefore things like falling leaves, tree twigs, pine cones, even though fashionable to talk about, but actually can not be used.

Furthermore, cracking charcoal and smoking charcoal may fill a room with dense smoke, they are the worst enemy of tea.

Charcoal from the Chang Xin tea mountain, known as "golden charcoal" is the right size, when kindled with cinder, it is the best friend for preparing water for steeping tea.

Translated from Wen Zhen Heng: Zhang Wu Zhi( 1620 AD), chapter 12

-- martin tai (gisling@hotmail.com), January 24, 2005.

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