Cai Xiang

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Image of Cai Xiang from the book "Wan hsiao tang-Chu chuang-Hua chuan(晩笑堂竹荘畫傳)", published in 1921
Letter on Cheng Xin Tang paper (求澄心堂纸尺牘) by Cai Xiang

Cai Xiang (Chinese: 蔡襄; pinyin: Cài Xiāng; Wade–Giles: Ts'ai Hsiang) (1012–1067) was a Chinese calligrapher, politician, structural engineer, and poet.[1] He had the reputation as the greatest calligrapher in the Song dynasty.


He was born during the Dazhongxiangfu (大中祥符) era of the Song dynasty in Xianyou (仙游) county of Xinghua (兴化) prefecture, now Xianyou County in Putian of Fujian province.

In the eight year of the Tiansheng (天聖) era (1030 CE) he obtained the degree of jinshi (進士, lit. "advanced scholar"), a graduate who passed the triennial court exam. His highest rank was Secretariat Drafter of the Duanming Court (Duanmingdian Xueshi), in charge of written communication of the imperial government. During the Qingli (慶曆) era (1041–1048 CE), he was the Officer of Transportation (Zhuanyunshi) in Fujian. While acting as a prefect in Fujian, he also was in charge of overseeing the construction of the Wan-an Bridge at Quanzhou.

He pioneered the manufacturing of small Dragon Tribute Tea Cake of superlative quality, as it was reputed to be harder to obtain than gold.

Cai Xiang's style name was Junmo (君谟), and his posthumous name was Zhonghuei.


One of his most famous publications is his essay "The Record of Tea", also known as the "Tea Note", which he wrote in 1049–1053.

  • Calligraphy: Wan'an Bridge Report Tablet
  • Poetry: Collected Works of Cai Zhonghuei
  • Letter: Letter on Cheng Xin Tang Paper


Tea has intrinsic aroma. But tribute tea manufacturers like to mix small amount of Dryobalanops aromatica camphor, supposedly to enhance the aroma. The local people of Jian'an never mix any incense into tea, afraid to robe the natural aroma of tea.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ci hai bian ji wei yuan hui (辞海编辑委员会). Ci hai (辞海). Shanghai: Shanghai ci shu chu ban she (上海辞书出版社), 1979. Page 610.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cai Xiang at Wikimedia Commons