It was not until A.D. 780 that the horticultural and other aspects of tea-growing were first published in a work exclusively devoted to tea. At the request of the tea merchants, The Ch’a Ching (Tea Book) appeared. It was written by Lu Yu, a noted Chinese author and tea expert.
In an allegory, the book quotes one of the emperors of the Han dynasty as saying:
“The use of tea grows upon me surprisingly; I know not how it is, but my fancy is awakened and my spirits exhilarated as if with wine.”
This makes it evident that tea as a drink had progressed in Lu Yu’s time from the earlier rank decoction of unprepared green tea leaves to a more inviting infusion. With methods of improving the leaf came better quality in the drink as a beverage, making the use of certain ingredients, such as spices, no longer necessary for improving its flavor.
During the greater part of the time that the cultivation of tea was spreading through China, such meager knowledge as existed regarding its culture and manufacture was disseminated almost entirely by word of mouth. While some slight mention of tea had been made in contemporary writings, most of these references to tea were fragmentary and could furnish little or no practical guidance to the agriculturist.