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Story of Matcha

The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu(茶の湯?) or sadō, chadō (茶道?). The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae ([お]手前; [お]点前?). Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the tea ceremony.

matcha ceremony

Tea gatherings are classified as an informal tea gathering chakai (茶会?, tea gathering) and a formal tea gathering chaji (茶事?, tea event). A chakai is a relatively simple course of hospitality that includes confections, thin tea, and perhaps a light meal. A chaji is a much more formal gathering, usually including a full-course kaiseki meal followed by confections, thick tea, and thin tea. A chaji can last up to four hours.

The custom of drinking tea, first for medicinal, and then largely also for pleasurable reasons, was already widespread throughout China. In the early 9th century, Chinese author Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea, a treatise on tea focusing on its cultivation and preparation. Lu Yu’s life had been heavily influenced by Buddhism, particularly the Zen–Chán school. His ideas would have a strong influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony.[4]

Around the end of the 12th century, the style of tea preparation called “tencha” (点茶?), in which powdered matcha was placed into a bowl, hot water added, and the tea and hot water whipped together, was introduced to Japan by Eisai, another monk, on his return from China. He also took tea seeds back with him, which eventually produced tea that was of the most superb quality in all of Japan.[5]

Matcha tea ceremony today in Kyoto, Japan.

Matcha tea ceremony today in Kyoto, Japan.

This powdered green tea was first used in religious rituals in Buddhist monasteries. By the 13th century, when theKamakura Shogunate ruled the nation and tea and the luxuries associated with it became a kind of status symbol among the warrior class, there arose tea-tasting (ja:闘茶 tōcha?) parties wherein contestants could win extravagant prizes for guessing the best quality tea—that grown in Kyoto, deriving from the seeds that Eisai brought from China.

*Information sourced from wikipedia.org




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