The History of Matcha Tea
Matcha does not only exist in the form of tea. In contrast to the USA or Europe, where Matcha Tea or Matcha tea sweets are still considered to be something rare and unusual, in Japan the history of Matcha has been going on for many centuries.
We find the taste of Matcha Tea everywhere, from a cup of hot latte to expensive and high quality Matcha tea powder sold in organic stores around the world. What was once associated with the almost magical rituals and tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony is now firmly entrenched in the daily life of not only Japanese people, but people around the world.
While some people consider this tea only “a hipster drink”, others drink it every day. While for some people this drink is only now becoming part of the diet, in Japan, cold or hot Matcha tea can be found in every vending machine.
The history of Matcha Tea. Philosophy.
The history of Matcha Tea begins, of course, with green tea. There are various legends and theories about how the technology of making tea was invented, but one of the most prominent is the legend of Emperor Shen-nong. It is believed that this mythical character taught the ancient Chinese the basics of agriculture and invented tea.
Once, when Shen-nong was heating water on a fire, the wind tore off some leaves from a nearby bush, and they fell into the pot, staining the water and giving it a pleasant aroma. Interested in what had happened, Shen-nong tasted the water, and he liked the taste. The plant from which the wind brought the leaves turned out to be a tea tree.
However, the resulting drink had more than just a pleasant taste. According to the legend, Shen-nong also discovered the various medicinal properties of tea by experimenting with different types of herbs and plants and testing their effects on himself.
Therefore, on many ancient scrolls, he is depicted chewing a blade of grass or a tea leaf. If you believe in this legend, you can trace the history of tea up to 2737 BC, in which the mythical Shen-nong invented the tea. Since it cannot be proven whether this story is true, it can be said that the history of tea as a drink goes back about four thousand years!
Tea from China to Japan?
The first types of powdered tea were invented in China during the Song Empire (960-1279). To make the harvested tea easier to transport, the steamed and dried tea leaves were crushed into a powder, which was then pressed into briquettes. In this form, it was easy to deliver it to the shops throughout China and beyond. In addition, the crushed and pressed tea did not spoil.
It is believed that in the 9th century, the famous Buddhist scholars Saitho and Kukai brought the first tea seeds from China to Japan, and another monk named Eichu made green tea popular among the Japanese nobility. It is said that Eichu personally served the Emperor Saga. The emperor liked this drink so much that in 816 he ordered the creation of a tea plantation in the territory of the modern Kansai region.
The history of Matcha Tea?
The history of matcha began a couple of centuries later. Like a host of other traditions and customs of ancient Japan, matcha has its roots in Buddhism, particularly in the Zen school. Monk Eisai of the Tendai School brought two things from his trip to China in 1187: tea seeds and Zen scriptures.
Chinese monks were the first who discover powdered Matcha tea. They broke up briquettes of green tea and whipped the resulting powder in hot water, thus preparing a delicious drink that helped them stay awake during long meditation sessions.
And although at some point in China they stopped using this option for making tea, it was very well received by Japanese monks.
Matcha Tea in The Morden World?
By the 16th century, the ritualized and purposeful way of preparing and consuming Matcha had spread among the Japanese nobility and samurai, who employed special masters for the tea ceremonies.
For some time, the tea ceremony was the only event where m=Matcha could be enjoyed, and therefore the privilege of the upper class. However, thanks to advances in manufacturing, powdered Matha tea has become available to the general Japanese public.
Today, we can all enjoy Matcha in any form: it can be sweets with its flavor or a classic cup of hot tea.
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