Tea was first introduced to Japan during the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. by
Buddhist monks who returned from study in China. Tea was widely used within Buddhist monasteries as an aid to
meditation and as a medicinal herb. During Emperor Saga's reign (810-23 A.D.), the popular form of tea was
dancha, a pressed cake, which was the tea of the T'ang Dynasty in China.
The Japanese Buddhist priest Minan Eisai first brought matcha, powdered green tea, to Japan upon his return from China in 1191. His enthusiastic promotion of the
ritualistic preparation of tea could be considered the genesis of Cha-no-yu -- popularly called the Japanese tea
ceremony. Eisai authored an influential two volume treatise on tea which led to the idea of tea's potential as an
independent medium of spiritual enlightenment. It was, however, another two centuries before an official Japanese
tea ceremony would be formalized.
As Cha-no-yu evolved as an independent art form, tea achieved the stature of a "Way" - "do" in Japanese --
which can be understood as an art form with an accompanying code of ideals which are intended to guide one's daily life.
Therefore, "Cha-do," or the "Way of Tea," is a philosophy of life in which Cha-no-yu is the associated art form.
This concept is closely associated with Zen Buddhism and its correlated mysticism.
The belief of Cha-no-yu is that an interchange between host and guest, in the proper ambiance, can be a transcendental
experience and will instill a spirit of tranquility and harmony among the participants regardless of their social, political,
or religious affiliation.
Tea masters who dedicated their lives to the study of Cha-no-yu were devoted to upholding even the minutest details of
the ceremony. The furnishings in the tea room, the objects on display, and the very conversations between host and guest
were appropriately structured. The shape and size of the tea room, the placement of stones in the pathway, and the type
of lanterns lighting the way were studied at length to ensure the proper environment. An indication of the mastery of
Cha-no-yu became the degree to which participants could perform in the precisely defined manner with apparent grace and
Within the history of Cha-no-yu, the most famous individual is undoubtedly Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) who is considered
by many to be the true "father of tea." Countless anecdotes about Rikyu and his incomparable skills as a tea master dot
the history of Cha-no-yu and the traditions of tea in Japan, and many of these tales focus on the master's ability to see
the pure essence of beauty in simple things and to express this ideal of Zen Buddhism in his tea ceremonies.
Today, there are practitioners of Cha-no-yu in nearly every country. While some of these practitioners profess an
affiliation with one of the traditional "Schools of Tea" in Japan, others simply enjoy it as an exotic diversion --
a curious foray into Eastern culture.
"Upton Tea Imports was founded in 1989 with the objective of providing the North American tea drinker with
the finest teas available. We purchase teas from reputable brokers and estates worldwide, dealing only with
sources who are capable of providing top quality teas. We sell directly to the consumer, thus ensuring the
freshest product and fairest pricing."