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The history of Japanese tea  

 

From Chinese Emperors and Buddhist monks to

21st Century consumers

 

 

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The history of tea goes back 5000 years to a legendary incident involving an early Chinese Emperor. On an trip to a remote part of his empire, tea leaves fell accidentally into water being boiled for him, they infused, he tasted the first brew and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

From a Japanese perspective, tea was exported from China dating from about 1600 years ago.

 

Buddhist priest, Yeisei, saw how tea enhanced religious meditation in China and brought seeds to be planted at his temple near Kyoto. 

 

Since this early introduction, tea has always been closely associated with Zen Buddhism in Japan. The popularity of tea spread through royal courts and monasteries.

 

 

The preparation of Japanese tea evolved under the influence of the ceremonial tea of the temples, the social teas of the aristocracy and the rise of a newly prosperous merchant class.

 

It was elevated to an art form in the creation of the Japanese Tea Ceremony ("Cha-no-yu" or "the hot water for tea"). The tea ceremony provided a venue and practice for recognizing the beauty of ordinary life

 

Three men, Murata Shuko, Takeno Jo-o, and Sen Rikyu influenced the development of tea rooms and the ceremony. Sen Rikyu set the rigid standards for the tea ceremony that still live on to this day.

 

Japanese tea gardens play an integral part in the tea ceremony. Japanese tea gardens have two parts: the outer and inner garden. The outer is a place where guests wait for the master to appear; the inner contains the tea house itself. Stone lanterns light the pathway between these two sections.

Morihan, Kyoeiseicha Co. Ltd., Seyama Building 5F, 5-1-1, Nishi-Tenma, Kita-ku Osaka 530-0047 Japan     

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