H is for Huizong

Huizong.jpg 2


Emperor Huizong ruled in China from 1101 to 1125 CE. He has since come to be known as the “Tea Emperor”. The Imperial Prince Zhao Ji ascended the Dragon Throne at the age of seventeen, and became sovereign of the wealthiest, most populist and advanced state in the world. Known in history as Emperor Huizong, the eighth ruler of the Song Dynasty, he inherited an empire marked by stability, prosperity and peace.

Not much of a ruler…

The Emperor spent most of his time composing poetry, painting, writing essays, and holding lavish parties and imbibing in huge amounts of wine and spending a lot of time with his 3,912 ladies in waiting and other courtesans. Can that really be true? Yikes! Decadent to say the least. On the other hand a great man of the arts.  It was said that he was one of the most artistic, educated and charming men ever to sit on the throne.  He was a huge patron of arts, surrounding himself and his court with poets, painters and musicians from all over his realm. The Song court under his rule was an emblem of China’s golden age of art.

In 1107…

He wrote a treatise on tea, Da Kuan Cha Lun. It was remarkable in many ways – it contained thorough descriptions of not only tea preparation methods of the time, but also the harvesting and processing of tea into cakes. His writings proved him a discerning connoisseur and a consummate master of the art of tea. The foundation for his life long devotion to tea, began early in his adolescence. He was educated by three scholars from the Fujian province , who instructed the young prince in the art and etiquette of tea as a crucial part of his social and cultural education. Through the years because of his royal status and wealth, he was able to amass an impressive library of rare books on tea. He could also easily afford high quality teas from private estates, exquisite china and special equipment used in the brewing of tea.

Tea drinkers…

He believed the way that someone drank tea revealed their innermost taste and character. He said that drinking tea properly required more than simply adhering to standardized rituals or using fancy wares.  He felt that it was a necessary requirement that the drinker must acquire a great deal of knowledge about the various types of tea, even down to  specific particulars about how each type of tea was grown and processed. He felt that this familiarity and knowledge with the origins of each tea would enrich their experience.

Sadly, a champion is lost…

His kingdom fell into disarray and consequently in 1125, a band of Northern Tartars invaded the palace and ended the Northern Song Dynasty. He and his son were exiled beyond the Great Wall, where they would live in solitary isolation for the remainder of their lives.  But, hopefully drinking tea.

Next…Huo Shan Huang Ya Tea



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