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Winter, 2000 Newsletter - Homepage
  Introduction: "Tea Becomes a Way"

   As discussed in Part I of this series, tea was first introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks who had returned from studies in China during the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. Tea was widely used within Buddhist monasteries as a complement to Buddhist meditation and as a medicinal herb. The form of tea used at this time was dancha (a pressed cake form), which was the tea of T'ang dynasty China.

   Japanese Buddhist priest Minan Eisai (1141-1215) was the first to bring matcha (powdered tea) to Japan upon his return from China in 1191. His enthusiastic promotion of the ritualistic preparation of tea was essentially the genesis of Cha-no-yu in Japan. In 1211 Eisai completed a two-volume treatise on tea entitled Kissa Yojo Ki (Preservation of Health Through Drinking Tea). Though still closely associating tea with Zen Buddhism, Eisai's promotion of tea was so strong that his followers began to see tea as an independent medium of spiritual enlightenment. It would, however, be another two centuries before an official Japanese Tea Ceremony would be formalized. For part three of our series, read the article.

 Related Information:
   Part I: Tea Comes to Japan
   Part II: Tea and the Samurai
   Part IV: Advent of Thatched Hut Tea
   Part V: The Perfection of Cha-no-yu
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