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After water, this aromatic beverage is the most widely consumed drink in the world.

“If you are cold, tea will warm you

If you are too heated, it will cool you

If you are depressed, it will cheer you

If you are excited, it will calm you.”

(William Ewart Gladstone)

Tea originated in south-western China, where it was used as a medicinal drink and during the Chinese Tang dynasty (c. 700) was popularized as a common drink. Chinese proverb says: “Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.” The Chinese were the first people to make drinking tea a ceremony, something special that people did together to enjoy themselves and relax.

“There are seven matters related to the starting of a family’s life: firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar and tea.” (Chinese proverb)

The Birth of Tea Culture

It’s a very old painting called “Tea Party In Hui Hills” by the most famous calligrapher and artist of the Ming Dynasty, Wen Zhengming done 600 years ago.

The Japanese, who live right next to the Chinese, learned drinking tea from the Chinese; they had special tea houses and a lovely tea ceremony they became famous for.

“Tea … is a religion of the art of life.” (Okakura Kakuzō, The Book of Tea)

The Birth of Tea Culture

An open tea house in Muromachi period illustrated in 24th poem, a copy of Tokyo National Museum reproduced in 1846, originally compiled in 1500 (copied by Kanō Osanobu and Kanō Masanobu). Monk clothing depicts the relationship between matcha culture, tea ceremony, and Buddhism.

Gallery images:

  • Tea Ceremony” by Isoda Koryusai (1735–1790)

  • “Three Seated Ladies with Lanterns Tea Pot Candle Holder and Stringed Instrument” by Kitagawa Utamaro
  • “Japanese Tea Ceremony” by Shuntei Miyagawa, 1873-1914
  • “A Tea house at Koishikawa” by Katsushika Hokusai

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