The CHA CHING - The Classic of Tea ( I - 1)
The CHA CHING – The classic of Tea
Part I. – the Origin of Tea
Tea is a fine tree of the South. Its height is from one to two feet to several tens of feet. The tea plants which grow on the hills and by the streams of Pa Shan [in the province of Szechwan] are sometimes so big that it takes two men to encircle them with their arms. They are cut down and then their leaves are plucked. A tea plant is like kua lu, a tree growing in Canton, the leaves of which are bitter and acrid in taste; its flowers are like the white cinnamon roses; its seeds are like those of the palm; its stalks are like those of the clove, and its roots are like those of a walnut tree. The roots of the two plants spread downwards until they reach gravel and broken tiles, and the tender plants shoot up.
In regard to the Chinese character ch'a, it has "grass,"4', as its radical part; sometimes it has "tree," *, as its radical part; and sometimes it has both "grass" and "tree" as its adical parts. The character with "grass" as its radical part is the ch'a, which is found in K'ai Yuan Wen Tzu Yin I [a dictionary]. That with "tree" as its radical part is the t'u, which is found in Pen Ts'ao [Shen Nung's materia medica].1 The character having both "grass" and "tree" as its radical parts is the ch'a which is found in Erh Ya [the ancient Chinese dictionary, begun, as some claim, by the Duke of Chou, d. ca. 1105 b.c, and annotated about a.d. 350 by the learned commentator Kuo P'o, who added a definition of tea under the name of kia, ft) k'u t'u, In regard to the names given to tea, it is called ch'a, kia, she, ming, and chuan. Chou Kung said that kia was bitter t'u. Yang Hsiung [53
b.c.-a.d. 18, a brilliant scholar] said that the people in the southwestern part of Szechwan referred to ch'a as she. Kuo P'o said that what was plucked early was ch'a, and what was plucked later was ming, which was otherwise known as ch'uan.