Life, the universe and tea“The Book of Korean Tea” by the Myung Won Cultural Foundation is a complete guide to the history and philosophy of rituals involving Korean tea and tea ceremonies.
Compiled by Yang-seok Yoo, an expert on Korean tea, the book covers writing and art work connected to Korean tea culture. The frontcover is beautiful picture of Shinsundo, a painting of Taoist hermits from the early 20th century that suggests tea drinking was part of royal court practice and spiritual training.
The book illustrates tea etiquette and conventions, such as the association of tea with nature and the important role tea plays in hospitality. Yoo writes that tea-drinking originated from pungnyu, when scholars used to insist tea drinking was a crucial part of contemplating nature and life in general. He also discusses “Dashinjeon,” a classic story about Korean tea in which Cho’ui, a Buddhist monk, marvels about the authentic way to appreciate tea.
“Drinking tea by one self is feeling the wonders of god,” Yoo writes. “Drinking tea with two is sharing the ultimate joy. Drinking tea with three or four is fine and comforting. Drinking tea with five or six is nothing more than plain. Drinking tea with seven or eight is just doing a favor for others.” By Park Soo-mee