A Record of the Tea Retreat: The Chaliao ji by Lu Shusheng

In: Ming Qing Yanjiu
Livio Zanini Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Venice Italy

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The Chaliao ji 茶寮記 (A Record of the Tea Retreat) by the scholar-official Lu Shusheng 陸樹聲 (1509–1605) stands out in the vast corpus of essays on tea produced in the late Ming dynasty for two reasons. Firstly, the social status of its author, who held the highest official position among all tea writers of the period, shows that tea appreciation was actively discussed among the highest echelons of the late Ming gentry. Secondly, the Chaliao ji is the earliest publication to bring together the issues of the construction of a private tea room, prescriptions for the preparation of loose-leaf tea, as well as instructions for savouring the beverage, thus further delineating specific aspects of literati tea culture as social markers.

This study examines the background and content of Chaliao ji. It first provides an overview of Lu Shusheng’s biography, from his experience in officialdom to his later life in retirement, focusing on his construction of a garden and his commitment to Buddhism and tea appreciation. It then discusses the contents of the text, the several extant editions and issues regarding its authorship. Finally, it provides an English translation of the Chaliao ji accompanied by the Chinese text and commentary.

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