Culture of Tea

Located inside the Garden’s Tower of Cosmic Reflections is the Tao of Tea, a local tea company promoting the art and culture of tea. The earliest book on tea was written by Lu Yu between 760 CE and 780 CE (Tang Dynasty). The Classic of Tea introduces the concepts of tea as a symbol for the harmony and mysterious unity of the universe.

In China, tea was first introduced as a medicine to the common people, becoming part of Daoism which expresses the unity of human beings and the natural world. By weaving tea into a way of life, one combines the material and human spirit of the universe. When tea became part of the royal family, its qualities became ceremonious and tea came to mean harmony, calm, etiquette and wisdom (Confucius). When tea became part of monastery life for Buddhist monks, tea acquired the qualities of meditation and purity. So, for Chinese, tea is not just tea, it is a combination of Chinese Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

In China, tea is a social process, a custom which involves not just the herbal or medicinal values of tea but social engagement. Guests are always served tea, no matter the time of day. Accompanying the tea are small dishes to enhance the tea and stimulate conversation among friends or guests. Besides just drinking tea, tea leaves are appreciated for flavor and texture and tea liquid is used to infuse cuisine with color, flavor and texture. Try the marbled tea eggs in the teahouse for a sample.

Teahouses became popular in the Ming Dynasty and became a place for small performances of music, play or song. Inside the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, the Tao of Tea is an authentic teahouse such as can be found during the Ming Dynasty. Light meals and snacks are offered along with numerous varieties of tea to suit every mood and season. Performances range from Chinese er-hu music to song and poetry.

More information
Lu Yu: The Classic of Tea

The Classic of Tea; Lu, Yu; Intro & Translation By Francis Ross Carpenter, Illustrated by Hitz, Demi;Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co. 1974

The Classic of Tea: Origins & Rituals; Lu, Yu; Translated by Carpenter, Francis Ross. Preface by Carpenter;New York, New York, U.S.A.: Ecco Press. 1995

Portland Classical Chinese Garden

NW 3rd & Everett Portland, OR 97209 503.228.8131

Summer Hours

The Garden will move to summer hours of 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. as of April 1.