China is both the “land of tea” and the “land of poetry”, which is why the subject of tea has long been infused into poetry.
From the earliest days of tea poetry to the present, over the course of 1,700 years, poets and scholars have composed thousands of beautiful tea poems.
From this long list, we have selected and translated one ancient tea poem that provide a glimpse into the tea culture and lifestyle of the past.
The poem was written by poet Du Lei of Song dynasty. The words used in the poem are simple and natural, and scenes described are vivid and timeless.
Also read: Tea Culture during the Song Dynasty
Poem: On A Cold Night (Translated)
On a cold night when a guest came, I served tea as wine.
The water was boiling when the charcoal in the bamboo stove just turned red.
Those new plum blossoms were in front of the window,
transformed the otherwise usual moonlight.
Explanation: It described a winter night when the poet had a visitor. The guest was probably a close friend, because he could just drop by late unannounced. The poet didn’t prepare wine, so he served tea instead. Two friends chatting and enjoying tea, in the heated room during a cold night, and that with a nice view too. How cozy was that!
Original Chinese Text & Pinyin.
Chinese character and pinyin versions are provided as follows.
hán yè kè lái chá dāng jiǔ,
zhú lú tāng fèi huǒ chū hóng.
xún cháng yī yàng chuāng qián yuè,
cái yǒu méi huā biàn bú tóng.
If you’re interested in other Chinese tea poems, also enjoy the Pagoda Poem.