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A Japanese Tale

Some records tell us that the Japanese have been drinking tea since the 8th Century.

It was particularly linked to Buddhist ceremonies in the early years but for some strange reason tea drinking took a break from Japanese culture for about 400 years and then re-emerged in the 12th Century.

A Buddhist monk called Eisai was one of the pioneers in Japanese tea history.

Returning to Japan from a trip to China he brought with him some tea plant seeds that were planted in the Uji region.

He also brought back knowledge of tea and introduced the custom of grinding tea into powder, called matcha.

The habit of drinking tea didn’t catch on quickly though, and for a long time was reserved only for the Japanese elite.

Several centuries later, in roughly the late 1600s, some farmers in the Uji region improved the tea processing technique of steaming and rolling the tea leaves.

They called this sencha, and it quickly became popular with the wider Japanese community.

Japan has since become famous for other types of tea.

One, called genmaicha, is mixed with puffed rice and has an earthy aroma to it.

Traditionally genmaicha was used by poor farmers as a hearty, warming drink but nowadays it is a specialty tea consumed throughout the world.

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