- KOREAN TEA HISTORY -
Modern Korean tea culture dates back to a 2,000 year old rich ceremonial tea heritage that has caught the devotion of tea drinkers, philosophers and poets. Tea-drinking in Korea focuses not only on the taste sensations but incorporates an accompanying appreciation of the purification of the mind, spirit and body.
- SILLA DYNASTY (BC 55-932 AD) -
A Korean envoy to China brought back tea seeds, which the king ordered to be planted on the slopes of Mt. Jiri. With tea produced in Korea and imported from China, the people of the Silla kingdom refined the art of drinking tea and developed many ways of drinking it.
Most upper class society drank tea during the Silla dynasty, such as the royal family, monks and young noblemen (“hwarang”). The monk Chungdam, and hwarangs such as Bochun and Hyomyung used the tea ceremony in worshipping Buddha. Through records of these characters we can see how much the tea ceremony was refined during the Silla period.
- JOSEON DYNASTY (AD 1392-1910) -
In the early part of the Jeseon period, tea continued to be used in temples in the pursuit of Zen, and in ancestral worship. However the new dynasty began actively to discourage Buddhism, and thus also the importance of tea began to decline. Continuous foreign invasions damaged the economy and social life of the country, and slowly the philosophy and customs of the tea ceremony were forgotten, even though at this late stage, scholar such as Dasan and monk Cho-eui tried to revive the old customs by writing poetry about the philosophy of tea.
- JAPANESE COLONIAL PERIOD (AD 1910-1945) -
The Japanese colonial rulers forced people to adopt the Japanese version of the tea ceremony, teaching it especially to the young, as a way of implanting Japanese spirit and culture amongst Korean women with the aim of unifying the two countries.
- TEA IN KOREA TODAY (AD 2015) -
From the end of the Joseon dynasty to the days of the Japanese occupation, Korean tea culture rapidly regressed. Even more so after the Korean War (June 25, 1950~1953), Korean society fell into frenzy, and caused tea culture to collapse altogether.
A regeneration of interest started in 1970, thanks primarily to tea masters who started lecturing, publishing books and conducting classes on Dado (the Korean Way of Tea), increasing the population of tea devotees. The rise in popularity of tea-drinking led to the development of large industrial tea plantations in the provinces of Boseong, Haenam, Hwagye, Yeongam and Jeju Island. Both small and large tea manufacturers actively produce tea in these provinces.