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Japan: Importing Tea & Culture - One of the earliest known references to green tea in Japan is a 9th century text. It was the Heian Period (A.D. 794-1185) of peace, prosperity, and openness to ideas and cultures particularly from China.
Many aspects of Chinese culture and religion were introduced during this period including parts of the modern Japanese alphabet.
9th Century: Importing Tea and Culture - The earliest known references to green tea in Japan is in a text written by a Buddhist monk Eichu in the 9th century. Tea became a drink of the religious classes in Japan when Japanese
priests and envoys sent to China to learn about its culture brought tea to Japan. The first form of tea brought from China was probably in a teacake. Ancient recordings indicate the first batch of tea seeds were brought by a priest named Saicho in 805 and then by another named Kukai in 806. It became a drink of the royal classes when Emperor Saga, the Japanese emperor, encouraged the growth of tea plants. Seeds were imported from China, and cultivation in Japan began.
12th Century: Kissa Yojoki - the Book of Tea - In 1191, the famous Zen priest Eisai (1141-1215) brought back tea seeds to Kyoto. Some of the tea seeds were given to the priest Myoe Shonin, and became the basis for Uji tea.

The oldest tea specialty book in Japan, Kissa Yojoki (how to stay healthy by drinking tea) was written by Eisai. The two-volume book was written in 1211 after his second and last visit to China. The first sentence states, “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.” The preface describes how drinking tea can have a positive effect on the five vital organs, especially the heart. It discusses tea’s medicinal qualities which include easing the effects of alcohol, acting as a stimulant, curing blotchiness, quenching thirst, eliminating indigestion, curing beriberi disease, preventing fatigue, and improving urinary and brain function. Part One also explains the shapes of tea plants, tea flowers and tea leaves and covers how to grow tea plants and process tea leaves. In Part Two, the book discusses the specific dosage and method required for individual physical ailments.

Eisai was also instrumental in introducing tea consumption to the warrior class, which rose to political prominence after the Heian Period. Eisai learned that the general Samurai (Shogun) Sanetomo Minamoto had a habit of drinking too much every night. In 1214, Eisai presented a book he had written to the general, lauding the health benefits of tea drinking. After that, the custom of tea drinking became popular among the Samurai.
Very soon, green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan -- a brew for the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood alike. Production grew and tea became increasingly accessible, though still a privilege enjoyed mostly by the upper classes.

13th Century: Roasting Process Introduced to Japan - In the 13th century Ming dynasty, southern China and Japan enjoyed much cultural exchange. Significant merchandise was traded and the roasting method of processing tea became common in Kyushu, Japan.
Since the steaming (9th century) and the roasting (13th century) method were brought to Japan during two different periods, these teas are completely distinct from each another.
16th Century: The Tea Culture Emerges - The pastime made popular in China in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries -- drinking tea, reading poetry, writing calligraphy, painting, and discussing philosophy while enjoying tea
– eventually became popular in Japan and with Samurai society. The modern tea ceremony developed over several centuries by Zen Buddhist monks under the original guidance of the monk Sen-no Rikyu (1522-1591). In fact, both the beverage and the ceremony surrounding it played a prominent role in feudal diplomacy. Many of the most important negotiations among feudal clan leaders were carried out in the austere and serene setting of the tea ceremony. By the end of the sixteenth century, the current “Way of Tea” was established. Eventually, green tea became available to the masses, making it the nation's most popular beverage.
18th Century: Modern Japanese Green Tea Introduced - Soen Nagatani developed Japanese Sencha (unfermented green tea) in 1740. Sencha uses dried crumbled tea leaves and is now a mainstay in Japan.
Rather than being ground and mixed with hot water, steamed tea leaves are pressed, rolled and dried into loose tea.

19th Century: Machines Replace Hand Rolling - At the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), machine manufacturing of green tea was introduced and began replacing handmade tea.
Machines took over the processes of primary drying, tea rolling, secondary drying, final rolling, and steaming.

20th Century: Automation Creates Superior Tea - Automation contributed to improved quality control and reduced labor. Sensor and computer controls were introduced to machine automation.
Unskilled workers can now produce superior tea without compromising in quality. Certain regions in Japan are known for special types of green tea, as well as for teas of exceptional quality, making the leaves themselves a highly valued commodity. This combination of Nature’s bounty and manmade technical breakthroughs combine to produce the most exceptional green tea products sold on the market today. Today, roasted green tea is not as common in Japan and powdered tea is used in ceremonial fashion.
Our tea and tea ware have a variety of certifications:

fair trade label
USDA Organic

ETP Ethical  Partnership
HACCP
ISO 14001

FDA
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