History of Japanese Tea (Chronological Outline)

Japanese tea has a long history. This history is also one of international communication, and of unique cultural and technological traditions developed by Japanese people. This section provides a general overview of the history of Japanese tea.
A more detailed history of Japanese tea is introduced in a serial article on the “Enjoyment of Japanese tea” page. (An article will be posted every Friday)

History of Japanese Tea – Chronological Outline
Ancient times ― The beginning of Japanese tea
CE 815The monk Eichu presented tea to the Emperor of Japan. (First record in Japanese official history, Nihon Koki)
CE 900sThe monk Kuya Shonin served tea with dried fruits and dried seaweed to prevent the plague. (Folklore about Oobukucha custom)
Medieval times ― New introduction of tea and the birth of the tea ceremony
CE 1191The monk Yosai wrote the first comprehensive book on tea written in Japan, “Kissa Yojoki (Drinking Tea for Health)”, and gave tea seeds from China to the monk Myoe Shonin of Toganoo. (Origin of Honcha, the most venerable tea of the time)
The Tocha (tea-tasting contests) gathering of cultural salons came into fashion. Cultural setting for the Japanese style tea ceremony was prepared.
End of 1400s – end of 1500s(Nationwide warring period where feudal lords fought over land holdings)
Establishment of the tea ceremony through social gatherings of feudal lords and rich merchants. Famous tea ceremony masters like Sen no Rikyu emerged and established Cha no Yu. (Japanese style tea ceremony)
Early modern times (Edo era: 1603-1867) ― The spread of tea drinking and the emergence of steamed Sencha
  Spread of tea drinking to the common people (Bancha, casual tea)
CE 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo Bakufu (feudal government ruling over Japan for over 250 years). Tea production and production areas increased.
  Ingen (a Zen master from China) introduced a new Zen sect, the Obaku.
Leaf tea drinking was favored in the cultural circles of “Japanese style literary men culture”, whose members originally yearned for Chinese poetry and art.
CE mid-1700s Koyugai, also known as Baisao, sold tea throughout the city of Kyoto.
CE 1738 Nagatani Soen of Uji (Kyoto) invented Sencha (Japanese style steamed green tea). He used high quality leaf buds and also created the urban markets with cooperation of Yamamotoya, a tea dealer in Edo.
CE mid-1800s Gyokuro (Sencha of shaded planted leaves) was developed in Uji.
  Green tea was mainly consumed domestically (because of the seclusion policy of the Edo Bakufu), and unique production and distribution traditions were developed.
Modern times ― Tea export and the modernization of cultivation and processing
CE late-1800s After the opening of several ports to foreign countries, Japanese tea was introduced to western countries and the merchants from those countries began to affect the price of tea in Japan.
CE 1868 The Meiji Restoration (First modernized national government was established)
  A sharp increase occured in tea export to western countries (especially to the U.S.), but excessively rapid expansion of tea production for export caused quality decline. Technological modernization and mechanization both in cultivation and in processing also began.
CE 1883 The “Tea Importation Act” prevented the importation of adulterated and fake tea in the U.S. This action resulted in the formation of a nationwide tea industry organization and improvement of the quality of tea.
CE 1912 - 45 Improvement of the quality of life by modernization in Japan increased domestic consumption. In the prewar period of the Showa era (1926-1945), domestic consumption far surpassed exports.
Japanese tea since World War II ― Increased domestic demand and diversified drinking habits
CE 1940-45 Production and export decline during wartime.
1946 - 1950s Export increase to the U.S. and Africa during the East Asian political crisis. (Mainly Tamaryokucha or black tea)
1960s Gradual export loss due to the recovery of China’s tea export.
1970s Increase in domestic consumption due to economic development.
Late 1980s - Canned tea and RTD bottles were invented and became widespread.