The Origin of Tea in Japan
Ancient Times - Tea culture in Japan dates back to at least the 8th century when Japanese Buddhist monks would bring tea seeds from China for the religious and royal classes to drink. In 1191, the famous Buddhist monk Eisai was attributed for popularizing tea consumption among the general public. In the 13th & 4th centuries the original Japanese tea ceremony was developed.
Industrialization - Tea drinking became commonplace in the following centuries and a daily household staple. Japan also began to develop its own unique style of green tea called Sencha where the leaves are steamed rather than the original method of pan-firing that was done in China and many other countries. In the 19th & 20th centuries, industrialization led to the modernization of the Japanese tea industry and mass production of large scale tea farms.
Historically, tea making in Japan was passed down through the generations. Pioneer and expert tea farmers developed hundreds of both registered and non-registered tea cultivars and unique types and styles of Japanese teas. However, in modern times and with the younger generations moving to the cities, tea culture in Japan is facing a major crisis and 4 of every 5 tea farms are being abandoned with no one left to continue operations. The risk of losing this tea making wisdom is unfortunate.
Future Generations - As interest spreads by word of mouth throughout Japan, the US and abroad, there are new tea farmers, producers, sellers, promoters, drinkers and connoisseurs that are helping to keep the culture alive. With the global movement of farm-direct, heritage and sustainable food practices, pre-industrialization practices are now being regarded as deeply important cultural treasures that need to be protected and preserved.
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