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The origin of tea can be traced back to over 4000 years ago in China. No one is sure where and when tea was first brewed; stories about tea's origins are more myth than reality. One story tells that a legendary Chinese leader and medical expert, Sheng Nong, discovered tea as a medicinal herb in 2737 B.C. One day while he was boiling water under a tea tree, some tealeaves fell into Sheng's pot of boiling water. After drinking some tea, he discovered its miraculous powers and immediately placed tea on his list of medicinal herbs.  

Initially used as an offering and as medicine, tea became the most commonly used beverage during western Han dynasty. Buddhist monks started growing it around monasteries. Later, during the Ming dynasty, the tea trade took an upper share in the state economy and the ”Tea and Horse Bureau" was set up to supervise tea trade. Click here to read more.

The dried and cured leaves of a white-flowered evergreen known as Camellia sinensis are used to produce tea. In China tea has been produced for almost 3,000 years. There are hundreds of varieties of teas, but most fall into three main categories: black and green oolong. Tea is categorized by the method that is used in processing the leaves.

Black Tea

Black tea requires the most processing of the three main varieties. Traditionally, the fermentation process begins by placing the leaves on drying or withering shelves to remove the excess moisture. When they reach the desired stage they are then rolled in special machines. Once the leaves are rolled, they are moved to another room where the temperature and humidity is carefully controlled and they are left to ferment. Then the leaves are heated and fermented or oxidized. Some processors use machines to chop the leaves into small pieces before the drying stage in order to speed up the process.  It is this stage that produces the distinctively rich flavor and amber colored brew. Black tea varieties include Darjeeling, Ceylon and Assam. Click here to read more.

The tea ceremony is a very special event in Japanese culture. The host spends days going over every detail to make sure that the ceremony will be perfect. There are various styles of tea ceremonies and it is recognized that every human encounter is a singular occasion that will never recur again in exactly the same way, and so every aspect of the tea ceremony is savored. The ceremony takes place in a room called the chashitsu. This room is designed and designated only for this ceremony. The room is usually within a teahouse, and is located away from the residence in the garden. 

The Guests' Arrival

When guests arrive (usually four), they are led into a waiting room (machiai) by the host's assistant (the hanto). The hanto offers the guests sayu (hot water that is used in making tea). While in the machiai, the guests choose one person to act as the main guest. The guests are then lead by the hanto into a garden that is sprinkled with water. This area is called roji or dew ground. No flowers grow here. It is in this garden that the guests are to remove the dust of the world. They sit on the koshikake machiai (waiting bench) and wait for the host (teishu).  Click here to read more.

Being originally a ritual of Zen Buddhist temples in ancient China, the tea ceremony has completely Japanized in its final form, and become very popular among foreigners as well as the Japanese. The fundamental spirit of the tea ceremony is exemplified in the expression of harmony, reverence, purity and tranquility. This series shows the full course (15 scenes) of "Cha no yu" captured in woodblock prints by Toshikata Mizuno ( 1866-1903 ) Click here to read more.

We offer the Internet's largest selection of Asian Arts, Crafts, and Collectibles with over 4,000 different items in stock in our Maryland warehouse. Our products are handcrafted and imported from Japan, China, Korea, Bali, India, Vietnam, Russia, Ceylon, Nepal, and Thailand. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit.

Sushi & Sake Set for Two
Sushi & Sake Sets
White Rabbits / Brown Rabbits
Chinese Snuff Bottles
Netsuke, Inro, Ojime
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases

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