An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xuanhe Beiyuan gongcha lu 宣和北苑貢茶錄 and Beiyuan bielu 北苑別錄

Jun 20, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Xuanhe Beiyuan gongcha lu 宣和北苑貢茶錄 "On the tribute tea from the Beiyuan Gardens during the Xuanhe reign" is a book on tribute tea written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Xiong Fan 熊蕃, courtesy name Xiong Maoshu 熊茂叔, style Dushan xiansheng 獨善先生. He came from Jianyang 建陽 (modern Jianyang, Fujian), was a famous poet and writer and a secretary of the politician Wang Anshi 王安石. The short book, written during the Xuanhe reign 宣和 (1119-1125), describes the history of the tea of the region of Jianyang and the actual situation of cultivating tea. Of special interest is his description of the taxation of the tea harvest with the method of so-called tribute tea (gongcha 貢茶). These stocks of tea were directly shipped to the imperial household for consumption. The book is enriched with 38 drawings and ten poems on tea. The Song period bibliography Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題 says that the drawings were only added at a later date, probably by Xiong Fan's son Xiong Ke 熊克 who had printed the book during the Chunxi reign 淳熙 (1174-1189).
An appendix to the book includes the text Beiyuan bielu 北苑別錄 written by Zhao Ruli 趙汝礪 who was in charge of the accountants office of the transport commissioner (zhuanyunshi zhuguan zhangsi 轉運使主管帳司) of Fujian. It is divided into 27 chapters that provide detailed information on the imperial tea gardens, plucking, "fermenting" or grinding tea, the preparation of the beverage, the various "fine" (xi 細) and "coarse" (cu 粗) colours and tastes, and also the amounts of tea shipped to the capital. The Beiyuan bielu is very detailed and surpasses all other books in the range of concrete information about Song period tea.
The two texts are included in the reprint series Dushuzhai congshu 讀書齋叢書 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1861.
蜀漢 (221-263)