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Lu Yu (733 -- 804 AD) was a Tea Master during the peak of the Tang Dynasty. To use modern terms, one could say tea was his career. Lu was one of a specialized class of tea experts who picked, produced, and steeped tea for their clients. These clients would often be the well-to-do families of China's Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), some of which would have their own live-in tea master on their staff. Yet Lu was more than the average tea master. He has come to be known as "The Sage of Tea" or a tea genius. Lu's "way of tea" is deeply rooted in classical Chinese culture of self-cultivation. Perceived by those during his time to have supernormal abilities, Lu was regarded as the deity of tea or tea god. Lu's story, like the story of the popularization of tea in the Tang Dynasty, started in a Buddhist monastery. Lu was raised by a Buddhist monk. From a young age, Lu carried out the duty of preparing tea for his master who excelled in the culture of tea. Rather than becoming a monk himself, Lu became a Confucian literary scholar with a passion for tea. Accounts in Tang Dynasty texts indicated that Lu was working professionally as a tea master. One record in the Feng Shi Wen Jian Ji—a historical record of the Fang clan in the Tang Dynasty—described a government official named Li jiqing employing Lu to make tea for him. The record described Lu having a reputation as a tea expert. Lu's reputation on the art of tea grew after he wrote the Cha Jing or "Classic of Tea." The Cha Jing is the world's first tea manual. The book is more than a manual. It contains a glimpse into Lu's world, a world steeped in Buddhist and Daoist philosophy. Lu's Buddhist roots shine through in the book. Lu's life consisted of long periods of time alone in the mountains—traditionally the dwelling place of Buddhists and Daoist immortals. During his time alone, Lu would climb to inaccessible places to find rare wild teas and the finest water sources. Lu's book was an instant hit during the Tang Dynasty and a tea craze swept across China. Many collected versions of his 24-part tea set—outlined in the Classic of Tea. The rich collected luxurious versions made of fine china or silver. Yet Lu himself was not fond of extravagance. He proclaimed that tea "does not lend itself to extravagance." He valued savoring the flavor and recommended drinking only three cups of tea in one sitting. This way of moderation carries the flavor of Confucius' "Golden Mean," or taking the middle way. It is a key concept of self-cultivation in Chinese history. Records of Lu's supernormal abilities were recorded in Tang texts. One text described the reaction of a military officer who was amazed at Lu's ability to tell where the water came from—just by its taste. Other references in Tang historical texts stated Lu was regarded as a god during his lifetime and shortly after his death. One text mentioned that Tang people were hanging portraits of Lu on the walls of their tea store rooms and worshiping him as a tea god. This is how Lu—the man who wrote the world's first ever tea manual and spread tea culture across China—came to be revered. Later, with the improvement in production methods for loose tealeaves, it became easier for ordinary people to brew tea. This occurred at the end of the Song Dynasty when the age of the tea master ended. But Lu would forever be immortalized as the "Sage of Tea," and remained the most important historical figure in traditional Chinese tea culture.