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Tea and Buddhism


Admission requirements



This course focuses on the close relationship between tea and Buddhism, introducing various tea traditions in China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea. It will provide abundant sources of tea and tea tradition across time and space, exploring how these traditions influenced and inspired Buddhist monks, especially of those of Zen schools, altering, on the one hand, the temple traditions, while on the other hand these Buddhist traditions transformed, innovated, transmitted, and expanded tea cultures across Asia. Besides historical and cultural approachs, a practical approach will also be applied to introduce this living and ever expanding tradition of tea: one or two types of well-known teas will be introduced at the end of each lecture, along with their history or legend, related literature sources, geographical and regional features, production techniques, as well as professional brewing tips. At the end of the course, students will have a chance to participate in a tea ceremony hosted by a Korean tea master.

Course objectives

After succefully completing the course, students will be able to

  • recognize various tea types and differentiate the tea traditions in different asian countries.

  • gain a familiarity with basic knowledge on tea culture and related buddhist tradition of zen in ease Asia.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Mid-term paper and a final exam.


  • Mid-term paper (on a topic from a list provided at the beginning of the course): 30%

  • Final exam (essay questions): 70%


The mid-term paper and the exam have a separate resit. The paper resit consists of rewriting the paper on the basis of the feedback given. The submission date for the resit of the paper is three weeks after the return of the corrected essays. The fina exam resit is same type of examination as the final exam.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Benn, James A. (2015) Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History / Honolulu / University of Hawai'i Press.

Waddell, N. (2010) The Old Tea Seller: Baisaō: Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century Kyoto / Berkeley / Counterpoint: Distributed by Publishers Group West.

van Driem, George L. (2019) The Tale of tea: A Comprehensive History of Tea from Prehistoric Times to the Present Day / Leiden & Boston / Brill.

A syllabus with the further reading list will be posted on the Brightspace site at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof