2011/06/17

Turning Point every 400 years

Japanese tea culture has been evolving over many centuries. And now, tea is the heart of our culture and a part of our lives.

When we look back on the history of Japanese tea, a turning point came roughly every 400 years.

The arrival of tea dates back to the beginning of the 9th century. Tea was brought  into Japan from China, and consumed only by monks and the nobility as medicine. In the 13th century, a priest Yosai (or Eisai) wrote a book on tea and spread tea more, especially among Samurai warriors, under the shogunate. Around the 17th century, even common people came to enjoy tea in their daily lives. It was also in the beginning of the 17th century that people in Europe tasted tea for the first time. Some of the teas were believed to be Japanese green tea shipped from Japan.

Now, in the 21st century, we are at the another turning point if we are following suit. Unfortunately, the transitional stage of  this time started from adversity. The consumption of green tea has decreased because more people prefer coffee, black tea and water. Let’s say they choose green tea. Even in that case,  PET bottled teas are more favored, not infused tea from tea leaves. In order to fight against this decline, tea farmers try to make teas that attract more people. Wakocha (Japanese black tea) is one of them, and this seems to be showing good signs of recovering its popularity.

However, as you may know, another adversity has come. That is, the radioactive substance itself and the damage from rumors caused by radiation. The problem that “Japanese tea” faces now is totally different from those that it used to have.

To hand down our tea culture to future generations, safety and tasty tea is a must. To provide safety and tasty tea, enough accurate information and data for people to trust are necessary.

a Buddhist Priest, Yosai