Buddhist Monk Eisai (1141 – 1215)
The Person who First Brought Tea Seeds to Japan
The history of Japanese tea cultivation started from Eisai, a Buddhist monk. Since the 6th century, many Japanese Buddhists had visited China to study Buddhism philosophy as well as the unique Chinese culture. Eisai was the person who first brought tea seeds to Japan from China in the 12th century. (It is believed that the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, had existed in Japan even before the time of Eisai, but it’s not clear where these plants came from.)
Eisai had visited China several times to study at various Buddhist temples, however coming back to Japan from his second trip in 1191 he brought green tea seeds and sowed them at Mt. Sefuri in what is currently Fukuoka prefecture. He also gave some seeds to the Buddhist monk Myoe and let him grow tea plants in the Kyoto prefecture. This was the beginning of Japanese tea cultivation for the purpose of making tea
Eisai also contributed the first Japanese book of tea – “Kissa Yojoki meaning “How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea in 1211. In this writing, he enlightened legions of people about the benefits of tea drinking and he proceeded to dedicate his life to promote this healthy lifestyle to the Japanese public. In the two-volume book, he began by saying “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete”. The book described the positive effects that tea had on the vital organs, particularly the heart. It praised the value of tea as a medicine in curing indigestion, quenching thirst, avoiding fatigue, working as a stimulant, undoing the effects of alcohol, and improving brain and urinary function. The book also explained the parts of the plant and the appropriate dosages and administration for specific ailments.
Many thanks, Eisai.
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