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Lu Yu; the Saint of Tea and Cha Jing

10. The missing link

Back to our Buddhist Monk Jiaoran. Jiaoran with his masterly in Chinese literature, a "poet monk" and a tea master was a much respected person in Huzhou. Many literary men, scholars, government officials as well as other Buddhist and Taoist priests were among his close associates.

It was through Monk Jiaoran that Lu Yu came to meet many friends in Huzhou. One of these men Lu Yu met was Yan Zhenqing, a famed new style calligrapher of the Tang era, a respected scholar, an adept civil official and a decorated hero during the offensive against the An Lushan Rebellion.

Yan ZhenqingIn 773 Yan Zhenqing was relocated to Huzhou as prefecture governor. He was also overseeing a major project in editing and compiling a literary and historical record for the imperial library, a project he started back when he was the governor of Pingyuan, Shandong Province in north eastern China. The project was interrupted and shelved due to the civil war.

Now in Huzhou he saw an abundance of literary men and excellent writers living in this area. Yan Zhenqing felt there was no better place in Tang China than Huzhou to revive this imperial library project - an opportunity that he didn't want to miss. Since the project was already shelved by the imperial court, Yan Zhenqing had to finance the project with his own money initially before he convinced the imperial court to revive the project.

He gathered some 56 writers and needed a few accomplished literary men as senior editors for the project. He invited his old friend Monk Jiaoran to the project and Jiaoran recommended Lu Yu as one of the senior editors. Yan Zhenqing himself was the editor-in-chief for the imperial library project.

Yan Zhenqing's calligraphyLu Yu working as one of the senior editor in the project readily found himself in possession of many historical records. Many of these records were on tea and tea related information. Lu Yu would probably not find any of these information on his own, or at least not all at one time if not for his participation in the imperial library project.

Much to Lu Yu's astonishment he had never seen nor knew most of these historical information on tea before. These historical records and tea related information turned out to be just that something "missing" from his Cha Jing which he had been searching for years but not finding it anywhere!

Yan Zhenqing's imperial library project was finally completed in 775. During this period Yan Zhenqing came to know Lu Yu well and they became good friends. In appreciating Lu Yu's extra effort and input in the project Yan sponsored Lu Yu to a new home in Huzhou. They named this house "Qingtang Bieye". It was designed like a library and home office for writers and scholars of Tang period.

Having a home like this created a favourable and conducive environment for Lu Yu to concentrate on his writing. Coincided with renewed information that Lu Yu had gathered from the imperial library project Lu Yu returned to major rewriting and editing of Cha Jing. Other than Cha Jing he also completed many other books in his brand new "Qingtang Bieye" home. He completed 5 books within the first 3 years of moving in to this new home. These included books on travel, geography, notable people of the past and various other titles.