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Lu Yu; the Saint of Tea and Cha Jing

11. Lu Yu said "no" to the Emperor

Politics in the Tang imperial court was dominated with backstabbing and framing by the evil, greedy and power hungry senior politicians and the mean and influential royalty ministers. Those gentlemen, competent and incorruptible officials like Li Qiwu and Cui Guofu were often the victims of such backstabbing, mostly resulting out of jealousy at their achievements by those mean senior politicians.

Yan Zhenqing was another victim of this backstabbing culture which resulted in him having a long zigzag career that frequently went downhill more than up. In 777 Yan Zhenqing was at last promoted to senior minister in the imperial court by Emperor Tang Daizong.

After his promotion Yan Zhenqing recalled those good people who helped him in the imperial library project and most of all Lu Yu. Yan Zhenqing was impressed with Lu Yu's talent and ability as a literary man and Lu Yu's vast knowledge in many other subjects besides literature and tea. Now in a senior position in the imperial court Yan Zhenqing recommended Lu Yu to Emperor Tang Daizong for appointment to the post of Senior Imperial Scholar. Emperor Daizong had agreed with the appointment however the appointment was tactfully turned down by Lu Yu!

Tang Capitol Changan's main gate

Most people would have seized the first opportunity of getting a high ranking post in the imperial court but not Lu Yu. He rejected the imperial court appointment almost immediately. Lu Yu's only desire was in nature, in tea and in composing literary work. Holding a high ranking position and becoming the high and mighty or the rich and famous had never concerned him!

After rejecting the appointment Lu Yu travelled to Chang'an to meet and thank Yan Zhenqing for having a high opinion of him. He stayed in Chang'an for a week before returning home to continue work on his Cha Jing. On his way home Lu Yu visited many famous tea places along the journey, including a short stay at Wuxi city because of the fine quality water there. Lu Yu loved good tea brewed with quality water. He had never once missed any opportunity to lodge in places where fine quality spring water was found.

From the time the Imperial library Project concluded Lu Yu took another five years to rewrite and ultimately perfecting Cha Jing. In 780 Cha Jing's final edition was eventually released and published. The project Cha Jing from concept to completion took Lu Yu a total of 26 years.

Lu Yu had written many books most of which he completed within a period of 3 to 5 years. None had taken him more than 10 years to finish. If not for Lu Yu's infinite determination, passion and obsession for tea it is hard to imagine a one-man project that can survive and remain in focus over this length of time.