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5. The Tea Quest

Lu Yu; the Saint of Tea and Cha Jing

5. The Tea Quest

After two years of good time with Cui Goufu, in year 754 Lu Yu aged 21 was getting bored and restless. Lu Yu was a tough orphan well tempered and shaped up during his early days in a Buddhist Monastery. Good times and good life left him feeling idle and aimless. He wanted to add something meaningful to his mundane life and decided on his tea quest - a field research on tea in the wild and aspirations to record and compile his findings in a book.

Lu Yu told Cui Goufu about his intention of an expedition on tea research in the vast outback of Bashan Xiachuan area. During Tang China, Ba was the area in present day Sichuan and Bashan was the mountainous area in Sichuan province. Xia was west of Hubei and Xiachuan was the Yangtze valley starting from the west of Hubei province. It was generally believed that tea was originally discovered in this area. During the Tang era this was a huge wilderness area along the middle part of the Yangtze river flanked by gorges and canyons, amidst the forest and the mountains.

Cui Goufu though not happy to see his buddy leave but fully supported Lu Yu's aspiration and goal. Cui Goufu sponsored Lu Yu with much of the basic needs from dried foods to stationery supplies for his lone "Tea Quest".

Location of Bashan XiachuanOn the parting day Cui Goufu handed over his favourite pet animal to his young buddy Lu Yu - a rare huge black torso white faced buffalo for Lu Yu to ride on and carry supplies with him on his lone treacherous trip. Lu Yu moved on with only the buffalo as his companion to the Bashan Xiachuan area in search for more information and greater knowledge on tea. Along his trip he discovered new species of tea never seen before the Tang Dynasty.

It was said that during this period country folks in nearby villages had noticed the presence of a stranger wearing ratan shoe and brown sackcloth overcoat examining and analysing various trees in the forest, making comments to himself and taking notes. Sometimes he stopped by the stream tasting water and chewing on tea leaves. Some said they saw this strange loony danced and sang to the trees, laughing and going frantic at times. This strange loony was Lu Yu.

For two years Lu Yu explored numerous no man's lands and crossed just about any district and county in Bashan Xiachuan. In every place he visited Lu Yu unceasingly collected tea samples and diligently sought information on tea as well as data on water. Lu Yu collected large quantity of tea samples and wrote many notes and these were now weighting him down. He decided to return to Jingling to organise and compile these samples and notes for further studies before his huge collection got out of hand.

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