Origins of Matcha
Like all green tea, matcha derives from the Camellia sinensis tea plant. Matcha has evolved through a fascinating journey beginning in China between the seventh and tenth centuries. Its historical significance started during the Tang Dynasty. The matcha tea leaves then were steamed and formed into tea bricks for storage and trade.
The journey of matcha continued from China into Japan through Zen Buddhism. During the twelfth century, Zen Priest Eisai brought tea seeds back to Kyoto, which became the basis for Japan's most famous tea-growing district, Uji. Eisai reportedly introduced a specific way of preparing the tea. The tea leaf was roasted and pulverised, and water added with a pinch of salt, becoming known as matcha. Eisai famously said, 'matcha is the elixir of the immortals'.
Matcha was an essential part of tea communion with the Zen Buddhists between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, becoming a popular ritual in which members shared the same bowl during the fellowship.
Zen believed in matcha's meditational benefits, saying it gave them greater clarity, increased their focusing abilities, and improved their feelings of well-being.
The influence of matcha grew to be highly appreciated by members of society's upper echelons. During the Song Dynasty, matcha's importance grew, continuing into the tenth and thirteenth centuries.
The popularity of tea grew outside of the district of Uji. It spread to other Prefectures in Japan and became a fundamental part of the culture in Japan. The tea ceremony later became established as a fundamental part of the way of life in Japan and considered part of the acquirement of beautiful things necessary in the daily life of the Japanese people. Its inception was strictly guided by rules governing etiquette. The Tea Ceremony is one of the Classical Japanese Arts of Refinement in Japan now.
Matcha was once known for its attainment of exclusivity by the noble and wealthy in Japanese society, later becoming one that all its citizens could enjoy. The versatile matcha has since spread throughout the world and is attainable by all.