Monday, June 29, 2009

Professor Chen Chuan, a Chinese tea master

I'm in my seventh year of tea study now (*). I try my best to attend the weekly tea class with Teaparker, even if I seldom write down what I learn in the blog anymore. But I still find these classes and the teas we taste fascinating. However,some of the material is confidential or proprietary. Some ancient Yixing teapots we study are loans from Teaparker's friends, some teas we drink are like R&D samples...

So, what is learning? When does information start to belong to me and not to the teacher? For me, it's when I use what I learn and apply it my tea brewing, when I create my own Cha Xi and then share this experience. Or, it's searching and selecting teas that display similar good qualities to those I enjoy most during class (purity, energy, lingering aftertaste...). It's finding my own words, pass my own judgement. Then it's something that's mine and that I can share around.

Teaparker is also expecting us to make more research before class, so that we can focus on the essentials and have more a Q&A type of exchange. Last week, for instance, he asked us to research Professor Chen Chuan (陳椽). Who was he and why is important in the world of tea?

Born in 1908 in Fujian, China and died in 1999. Professor Chen Chuan introduced scientific methods to research the field of tea. We are all familiar with his classification of tea in 6 families according to the oxidation of the leaves and summarized by its color (green, white, yellow, Qing/Oolong, red and black teas). We just didn't know he invented it!

Concerning the origins of tea, his research concluded that tea first appeared in Yunnan. A scientific tea scholar, he published many books about most aspects of tea. He is regarded as the 20th century Lu Yu in China.
Thank you, Professor!

* Note: If I named the blog 'Tea Masters' (notice the plural), it's because I have the chance to meet several during my studies, not because I think I'm one. Even if I'm pretty happy about my brews lately, the more I learn, the more I see how much there is to learn.


Wojciech Bońkowski said...

Interesting! I didn't realise the 6-fold classification of tea into 'colours' is a 20th-century fact.
So how did they classify tea before? Green, black, oolong, puer all existed from old times. Was there no classification?

Paul Dray said...

..even if you don't think of yourself as one, you'll always be a 'Tea Master' to me Stéphane :) at least one in the making.

Nice results with the new camera too!

TeaMasters said...

The previous classification was less precise, Chen Chuan would say less scientific: not oxidized, semi-oxidized and fully oxidized.

Thank you Lastcoyote, 'tea master in the making' sounds nice.

Rich said...

Great post - I am quite envious of your lifestyle and opportunities to learn. Perhaps we can do a tea day when I come back in the winter, where we can meet some of each other's masters?

TeaMasters said...

RTea, I'm looking forward having tea with you again!

Jason Witt said...

I'd like to learn about things like "purity" and "energy" with tea. I'd also like to see translations of writers like Chen Chuan into English.