History of Tea
Though matcha can be said it was started from Japan, but actually teas are started from China.
▼The picture below is a simple chronology of China and Japanese tea.
Tea drinking was first known around 2700B.C. It has a reference connection to the mythical emperor Shennong who is regarded as the father of Chinese medcine and agriculture.
①Tea first spread to Japan was in Heian Period (平安時代). Tea became a drink of the religious classes in Japan when Japanese monks and envoys are sent to China to learn about its culture, and brought tea back to Japan.
Tea drinking was first referred to in Japanese literature in 815 in Later Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Koki日本後記). In this time, tea was extremely valuable and only drunk by imperial court nobles and Buddhist monks.
②The custom of drinking tea was started from Tang Dynasty (7th-10th). During that time, the tea was harvested and formed into tea bricks which were created for storage and for the effcient transportation of the tea over long distance.
Initially the tea bricks were prepared by roasting and pulverizing the leaves then mixing the resulting tea powder with hot water and salt.
③From these orgins the process evolved until the grinding of steamed green tea became popular in the Song Dynasty (10th-13th).
The method of making powdered tea from steam-prepared dried tea leaves, and preparing the beverage by whipping the tea powder and hot water together in a bowl became popular in latter part of the 12th century.
④ In 1191, there was a Japanese Buddhist Monk, Eisai, who studied Buddhism in China then returned permanently to Japan. He brought tea seeds along with the Zen Buddhist methods of preparing powdered green tea. The seeds that Eisai brought back, were largely considered to create the highest quality tea leaves in all Japan.
⑤ In Muromachi(室町), the real tea farm was made in Uji and also spread to Kanto area(関東), the eastern of Japan. And a place for people take a rest and can drinks teas and eat some Japanese sweets there called Chaya (Tea House/茶屋) are started appearing in this period.
◄Sen no Rikyu
In Azuchi Momoyama period (安土桃山), a business man who called Sen no Rikyu, also known simply as Rikyu, is considered the historical figure with the most profound influence on Chanoyu (Way of Tea/茶の湯) and established Sado (tea ceremony).
⑥ In 1610, Edo period (江戸), Japanese teas were first exported to Europe. In 1632, processions were held to transport the tea pot contained Uji tea as a special local product from Uji, Kyoto Prifecture to Tokyo, which was given to the Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and the first military dictator of Japan.
The route taken was called the Chatsubo journey (茶壺道中). And teas became to a kind of popular beverage not only among monk and nobles but also among private citizen in this period.