In the early 8th century, Zen monks travelling from Japan to China had begun to bring tea and tea seeds back with them and started growing tea plants. Soon the Japanese Zen priests began their own tradition of cultivating, processing and preparing powdered green tea – and thus matcha was born. The preparation and consumption of powdered tea became a ritual by Chan or Zen Buddhists.
Zen priest Esai’s famous book about tea refers to matcha in the opening sentence “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.” This went on to be the only tea to be used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (Sadō).
Sadō (‘The Way of Tea’) in its modern form was developed by Zen monks over the course of the 15th century and became popular with the Samurai society, royalty and Japan’s upper class. It continued to be an important item at Zen monasteries, and became highly appreciated by others in the upper echelons of society.
It was in the 1960s that the idea of matcha being consumed as a drink was challenged. Suddenly producers began marketing and selling matcha as a food processing material.
The world outside Japan started to wake up to Matcha in the 1980s, although it hasn’t been until very recently that the wider population began it’s love affair with this super powered tea.
Today Japan only exports about 4% of its precious matcha. It's not only a highly treasured specialty green tea, but also used frequently in Japanese cooking and baking, health foods and beverages such as lattes and smoothies.
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