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Matcha

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The history of matcha in Japan is said to commence in the 12th Century, when Zen monk Eisai [栄西] (1141-1215) brought tea seeds he had gathered on a study trip to China. In the 8-9th Century however, Buddhist Monks Saichō [最澄] (767-822) and Kūkai [空海] (774-835) had already brought tea seeds from China. But at that time tea was processed into compressed cubical bricks or cakes, and it was not until the following century that a powdered kind of tea, resembling what we nowadays perceive as matcha, became the standard. This powdered form of tea was commonly used at Chinese Chan [jp: Zen] monasteries, and was revered for its vitalizing and healing benefits. Besides implementing this application of tea in his own Buddhist praxis, Eisai also wrote a book titled ‘Kissa Yōjōki’ [喫茶養生記], which translates as ‘Drinking Tea for Health’ in which he explains the various health benefits that can be gained from consuming tea.