History of Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is the drink that has taken the health world by storm. Its nutritional properties and high amount of antioxidants make it the perfect natural supplement to for smoothies and baked goods, or simply to enjoy on its own! However, the origins of this superfood actually go back well over a thousand years.
Although tea drinking has been a part of Chinese culture since around 2700 B.C., the
process that would lead to what is now known as matcha tea started in the Tang dynasty (which was from 618 A.D. to 907 A.D.). This occurred because tea leaves began to be transported and stored as a compounded bricks of tea leaves. In order to prepare the tea, one would need to grind and pulverize part of the brick, creating a tea powder. This process became even more popular in the Song Dynasty (960 A.D. to 1279 A.D.).
Eventually, powdered tea drinking became a cultural practice that was done during rituals of Zen Buddhists. It was through this religious channel that the tea found its way from China to its next big home...
Arrival in Japan
As Buddhism began to spread from China to Japan, so too did other cultural aspects, such as powdered tea. In 1191, the Zen Buddhist monk, Eisai, brought powdered tea to Japan and began to tea the ritualistic etiquette for preparing it. It was in Japan that the name matcha was given to this powdered form of tea (“ma” means powder, in Japanese, and “cha” means tea).
Although powdered tea had existed in the higher rungs of Japanese nobility for hundreds of years, it did not strike the country as a popular form of tea consumption until Eisai included the tea in his teachings of Buddhism. At this time, mass production of matcha tea began in Japan, as the common folk began to drink it, regularly.