What is the history of tea in Japan?


As early as the eighth century, when the first documented references to tea were recorded in Japanese records, the history of tea in Japan was established. When Japanese priests and envoys were dispatched to China to learn about its culture, they brought tea back to Japan, where it eventually became a beverage of the religious classes. The first people to introduce tea seedlings to Japan have been the Buddhist monks Kkai and Saich.

Brick tea was perhaps the first type of Chinese tea introduced to Europe. Emperor Saga promoted the cultivation of tea plants, which led to tea being a beverage of the royal classes. After importing seeds from China, Japanese agriculture got underway.

After Eisai’s Kissa Yjki was published in the 12th century, tea drinking among the gentry increased. During this time, Uji (a city in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, that is located on the southern outskirts of Kyoto) established itself as Japan’s first significant tea-producing area because of its advantageous location close to the capital Kyoto. Japanese tea culture began to take on its current characteristic traits in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the Japanese tea ceremony arose as a central element of that culture.

Tea became a mainstay of the general populace as manufacturing rose in the centuries that followed. Sencha (a type of Japanese green tea) evolved in the 18th century, resulting in the emergence of new, unique green tea varieties that today predominate the Japanese tea market. Because of industrialization and automation in the 19th and 20th centuries, Japan’s tea business became a highly effective enterprise that could produce significant amounts of tea despite the country’s little amount of arable land.



A Buddhist monk initially introduced tea to Japan in the ninth century, beginning the country’s long association with the beverage. However, it was not until the 12th century that tea was commonly drunk in Japan. The buddhist contributed to the development of tea drinking as a cultural activity in Japan by bringing back tea seeds and information about tea planting and preparation from China.

Tea gardens were built during the Kamakura era (1185–1333), and the chanoyu tea ceremony started to take shape. In the future, this ritual would play a major role in Japanese culture, and tea would be important in the social, cultural, and religious life of the nation.

Zen Buddhism had a significant impact on the tea ceremony, which evolved into a means for individuals to express and experience the concepts of peace, respect, purity, and tranquility. The tea ceremony included more than just sipping tea; it also considered the decor of the tearoom, the utensils used, how the tea was made and served, as well as the conduct and demeanor of the host and guests.

The tea ceremony developed during the Muromachi era (1336–1573) and grew increasingly structured. Sen no Rikyu, a renowned tea master, created the Wabi-cha style of tea ceremony around this time, emphasizing simplicity, rusticity, and the beauty of imperfections.

The tea ceremony becomes even more well-known and prevalent throughout the Edo era (1603–1868). The tea ceremony developed into a highly stylized and structured ritual during this time, becoming a status symbol for the affluent merchant class.

The tea ceremony is still an important aspect of Japanese culture and has grown more widely accessible in modern times. The tea ceremony continues to have a profound influence on Japanese culture and society today since it is still widely practiced and respected.


The Different Types of Tea

Tea from Japan is well-known around the world. It is a tasty, healthful beverage that may be served hot or cold. In Japan, tea has a more than a thousand-year history. When tea originally arrived from China in the eighth century, it was mostly used as a medicinal drink by priests and the affluent. The Muromachi Period (1333-1573), during which wealthier members of society began organizing tea-drinking parties as an opportunity to flaunt their spotless tea bowls and impart their expertise on the beverage, is when tea then gained widespread popularity.

Around that time, Sen no Rikyu (1522–1591), the founder of modern tea traditions, started promoting an austere, unadorned simplicity. Sado, a type of tea ceremony, started to place more of a focus on tradition, spirituality, and refinement.

Today, Japan produces more than a hundred distinct tea types and grades. Tea is now commonly available in restaurants, convenience stores, and even people’s homes, even though it is frequently connected with Sado rituals. 

The following are the different types of Japanese Tea:


A particular variety of green tea called matcha is produced from the leaves of tea plants that have been shade-grown. Due to this, tea leaves develop more chlorophyll, which gives matcha tea its vivid green color and gently bittersweet flavor. They also grow bigger and finer. To create tea, the leaves are reduced to a fine powder and stirred with hot water. Matcha tea comes in many grades, with the top premium grades being utilized in tea ceremonies.


The roasted stems and leaves of tea plants that are picked later in the season are used to make hojicha, a type of Japanese tea. To provide a toasty, nutty flavor akin to roasted coffee beans, Kyoto tea merchants began roasting tea stems over charcoal in the 1920s. Hojicha is a well-liked beverage for morning, noon, or nighttime use since roasting the tea also makes it decaffeinated.


The most widely consumed type of tea in Japan is sencha or loose-leaf green tea. Sencha, as opposed to matcha, is created from tea plants that have been cultivated in full sunlight, giving the beverage a deeper hue and more astringent flavor. In contrast to matcha, this tea is prepared by steeping the tea leaves in hot water to create a transparent beverage with a hue that can range from yellow-green to dark-green-brown. Green tea is well recognized for giving you a surge of energy without giving you as much of a caffeine crash as coffee. While many people may only associate green tea with a hot beverage, unsweetened iced green tea is one of the most popular tipples in Japan.


Another roasted tea is mugicha, which is created from roasted barley that has been infused with water as opposed to tea leaves. It does not contain any caffeine and has a mild flavor without any bitterness. In Japan, mugicha, which may be served hot or cold, is a favorite summertime beverage.


Western kombucha is a form of fermented tea prepared with yeast and bacteria that is popular outside of Japan. However, kombucha tea is extremely different in Japan; it is a tea brewed with kelp (kombu) seaweed as a foundation. Kombu, which is umami-rich, is usually utilized as the main component in dashi soup. The result is a tea that is nearly broth-like in flavor when made in Japanese kombucha tea. Ume, or sour pickled plums, may be blended with kombucha to make a flavorful, acidic tea that is rich in taste.


The same sort of grain used to manufacture buckwheat flour for Japanese soba noodles is also used to make sobacha, a type of tea made from roasted buckwheat kernels. It has a silky texture, and an earthy, wheaty flavor, and may be eaten hot or cold. Sobacha is devoid of caffeine and offers nutritional fiber as well as antioxidants.


Gobo (burdock) root, a sort of root vegetable that is prominent in Japanese cuisine, is used to make gobocha. Gobo has a taste that is quite earthy and reminiscent of mushroom soup when used to create tea. Gobocha gained enormous popularity in Japan because of the notion that it has anti-aging properties.


Green tea and toasted rice are combined to make genmaicha. The rice’s added toasted, nutty taste helped to temper the green tea’s harshness. For added taste, it can also be mixed with other types of tea like hojicha and matcha.


A sort of shaded green tea from Japan is called gyokuro. It varies from traditional sencha (a traditional, unshaded green tea) in that it is cultivated in partial shade as opposed to full sun. The term “gyokuro” means “diamond dew” in English (or “jade dew”). 



When tea was first brought to Japan from China in the eighth century, it was primarily utilized for religious purposes. Additionally, there are different kinds of Japanese tea to enjoy which are present from several years ago until today.