[KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders

BJ joinau at chollian.net
Wed Aug 15 05:10:46 EDT 2012

I reply quite late to a topic which may be already closed, but I was
out of Korea for a while. I just read the postings “diagonally“ and I
don't want to fuel the complicated debate on Korean garden culture,
which is far beyond my ability. I just wanted to share a reference
which may be of some interest for the matter, because well documented
and taking the question from a different point of view - the plants
that made up Korean gardens - instead of focusing only, as usual, on
the architectural/aesthetical/sociological dimensions of gardens. For
those who didn't know yet this thick book full of illustrations and
우리와 함께 살아 온 나무와 꽃 - Study on planting in Korean traditional
landscape architecture, 이선, Suryusanbang, Seoul, 2006 (730 p.).

Benjamin JOINAU
Yongsan-gu Itaewon-dong 119-28
140-200 Seoul, South Korea
Tel/fax : (822) 795-2465
Cell phone : (82) 10-8905-0696
E-mail : joinau at chollian.net
-----Original Message-----
From: koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws [mailto:koreanstudies-
bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of Brother Anthony
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 12:24 AM
To: Frank Hoffmann; Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders

As so often happens with our List, I did not receive Lauren's original
mailing, nor David's little note. The first I got was Frank's more
developed piece. 

I would not be qualified to comment on what Daniel Burkus has written,
which depends upon a very personal reading of sources I have no access
to. Instead I would simply note that the current issues being discussed
(??) in Korean Tea circles center on what Prof. Jeong Min (Hanyang U)
has written in his recent (2011) very well-documented book Saero
sseuneun Joseonui chamunhwa to the effect that there was absolutely no
"tea culture" in Korea from the very start of Joseon, no "tea ceremony"
of any kind that is documented anywhere. The standard Chinese character
"cha" came to refer to any kind of drink made (usually) by adding
boiling water to some substance (as in 'barley tea' and 'ginger tea')
but he quotes more than one source from the 18th century who,
themselves aware that the Chinese character cha originally refers to
the Camellia Sinensis bush, say that nobody in the regions where it
grows knows it by that name, if they recognize it at all. The only
written records from Joseon that refer to this kind of 'tea' either
refer to processed tea coming from China or record its use in a
'hanyak' (herbal medicine) context. Dasan himself, in the poem he wrote
on first meeting the Ven. Hyejang in Baengnyeon-sa in 1805, clearly
says he needs tea leaves to treat his chronic indigestion. There is no
written record to support the myth that Hyejang taught Dasan the "Way
of Tea" (and I will have to correct my books when I get the chance). It
was Dasan who found a way of drying tea in cakes that provided a
pleasant drink; he taught that to the Ven. Cho-ui who then brought
caked tea to Seoul in 1830 and provoked a little "Cho-ui Boom" that led
to his enduring close friendship with Chusa Kim Jeong-hui. Since Prof.
Jeong Min will be spending the next year in Harvard, David and Frank
will be able to ask him about this directly.

When it comes to Joseon gardens, Peter Bartholomew (who may not be an
academic but knows a lot about Joseon architecture) points out that
every government compound in Joseon (and there were an awful lot of
them) was landscaped in a garden style with lotus-ponds, pavilions,
rocks, plants . . . so that we would have to assume that people knew
what they were doing even if they saw no need to write treatises about
it. Probably the plans of these compounds preserved in Kyujang-gak
would have at least some information about the garden features?

Brother Anthony
Sogang U / Dankook U / RASKB etc

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