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Lu Yu; the Saint of Tea and Cha Jing

8. Living in solitude

Traditionally in China when scholars, writers, as well as practising Taoists and religious high priests entered their final phase of an important project, they often moved to a remote area away from distractions to put full concentration into their project until the project's final completion.

In 760 Lu Yu left Xixia Monastery looking for a quiet secluded location without interference so he could concentrate on composing Cha Jing. He finally decided on a mountain located near Shaoxi (now Wuxing city, Zhejiang Province) called Juzhu Shan. He moved in to the home of a practising Taoist Wu Jun, who was living in seclusion in Juzhu Shan near to a cave where archived books were stored. Wu Jun's home in the mountains with a nearby library in the mountain cave looked like a perfect hideout for Lu Yu to concentrate on compiling his Cha Jing.

Old painting of a house in the mounatian in Zhejiang from www.luosen.comDuring this period Lu Yu was supposed to be living in solitude. However villages in the mountain area spotted Lu Yu wearing ratan shoe, cotton scarf and short sackcloth coat moving between the woods and the farms. Singing and chanting ancient poems or Buddhist Sutta in the woods, tasting and testing water, Lu Yu would be drinking tea in the wild and writing his book under the tea tree all alone till sunset. Village folks in the area referred to Lu Yu as "a zippy whacko"!

While the war was raging elsewhere in the north, Shouxi and most area south of the Yangtze river remained reasonably peaceful and safe. Lu Yu comfortably behind "closed door" in the mountains for 6 years writing, compiling, editing and verifying his large collection of notes and samples, Cha Jing's first manuscript was ready in 765.

A year later in 766 Cha Jing's first edition was finally completed. However Lu Yu was not satisfied with his work. He felt that Cha Jing was not perfected yet and something was "missing" in the book. Therefore Cha Jing was not officially released but only circulated among a small closed group of people. Thus Cha Jing's first edition was in reality a prototype or a preview copy in circulation within a closed group.

The period immediately after the completion of Cha Jing's first edition Lu Yu tried hard searching for that "something" missing from his work. He spent time in the tea farm and production area to study and verify his writing but found nothing.

In 769 Lu Yu worked as process controller for some tea farms in Shouxing area. He also conducted training classes on tea process and tea cultivation while still looking out for that "something" missing in his Cha Jing.