China Seminar | 9 February 2017

Tea as Culture in Chinese Tradition

Hong Jiang Hong Jiang

Tea was first used by humans in China several thousand years ago, and since the Tang Dynasty, especially after Lu Yu’s famous “Book of Tea,” tea drinking has become an important cultural symbol and practice linked closely with the Chinese cultural tradition of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, serving as a medium for the cultivation of the mind and body. As such, tea provides a perfect opportunity to study human relationships with nature. This presentation will introduce the changing technologies of tea drinking in China, discuss Lu Yu’s “Book of Tea” and his personal biography, and explore how tea drinking has been incorporated in the Chinese tradition as a symbol of self-restrain, virtue, harmony and tranquility. Poetry, painting, and photos of ancient tea utensils will be used to discuss these topics. Hong Jiang is Associate Professor and Chair of the Geography Department at UHM. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Beijing Normal University, and her PhD at Clark University. She taught at the University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison prior to coming to UHM. She is a China expert versed in both contemporary Chinese environmental issues and cultural geography of traditional China. Her past research examined land-use and environmental issues in northern China, on which she has published a book and numerous articles. Her current research explores the role of nature in Chinese thought, one component of which is tea and Chinese culture.