The history of the relationship between Buddhism and tea goes back more than a millennium. Taoist and Buddhist temples and their surrounding lands, often the property of monasteries, were closely associated with tea cultivation.

Documentary evidence is found everywhere - these are monastery business books, where records were kept of what the monastery bought and what it sold, how many peasants went to work and moments that have already become part of folklore and culture. The legend of Bodhidhidharma, who tears out his eyelids from which tea then grows, is probably known to all Buddhists who practice Chan. In any case, such relationships were fruitful; many hybrids of the tea plant were bred precisely under conditions of long cultivation and work on the species on monastery lands.

Tea was loved and encouraged in Buddhist monasteries everywhere. It was used both in everyday harsh monastic life and during multi-day retreats as an excellent harmless stimulant. Let's remember the famous Chan saying: Tea and Chan are the same taste. Everyday persistent practice, often accompanied by strain on all mental and physical strength, required such a drink. By the way, there are historical references that the current popularity of oolongs is due to Buddhist culture. Many have noticed that “ringingly clear” state of consciousness after a good oolong. This was a reinforcing factor and stimulant during many hours of meditation practice.

Around the 9th century, tea arrived in Japan. Historical records mention a monk named Saicho, who brought the first tea seeds to the islands, moreover, there is a clear dating of this fact - 805 AD (hereinafter, the dating is AD). Until 1191, tea remained the drink of the royal family only, when the famous priest Eisai re-brought tea seeds from the Middle Kingdom and planted them near a temple in Kyoto. A little later, Eisai gives the seeds to another Buddhist priest, Myoe Shonin. Subsequently, Mioe established the first tea garden in the small town of Uji, which is closely adjacent to Kyoto. Uzdi itself is a historical place with a large number of attractions, Shinto shrines, and Buddhist temples. With the arrival of tea in this town, its historical value only increased. By the way, the tea planted in Uji is still alive and well and is considered the highest quality in Japan. It is called the same as the city - Uji tea.

In Korea, tea was known and played an important ritual significance already in the 7th century; more precisely, there are references that tea was one of the parts offered during the ritual of offering to the ancestors already in 661 by King Suro. There are also records that during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), tea was offered as offerings to ancestral spirits in ceremonies at Buddhist temples.

Thus, Buddhism, or rather Buddhist monks, was the most important factor in the spread of tea throughout Asia and the Far East.

In the early 19th century, many Taoist and Buddhist landholdings were sold to entrepreneurs. In the Minbei and Wu Yi regions, this process was so rapid that by the beginning of the 20th century very few tea gardens remained under “religious” ownership. A new era was dawning in the life of tea, but that’s a topic for another article.