Japan discovered tea in the eighth century as a result of contact with Buddhist priests in China. It soon became the favorite beverage of monks who found it helped them stay awake during long periods of meditation. When Japan opened its ports to western trade in the 1860s, tea became a popular commodity and it wasn’t long before Japanese tea was found in general stores across the United States.
In the early days of tea cultivation in Japan, tea was hand plucked. Today, almost all Japanese teas are harvested by gas-powered clippers or self-propelled mowing and collection machines. The modern manufacturing facility is highly mechanized as the fresh green leaves make their way through the steaming, drying, rolling and grading processes.
The Japanese growing areas are all located in hilly parts of the country close to rivers, streams, and lakes where the climate is misty and damp and the amount of hot sunshine is tempered by cool hazy mornings and soft light. Three harvest times take place in May/April, June, and September/October. The majority of teas produced are green.