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TEA IN JAPAN

A WORK OF ART AND THE WORK OF A LIFETIME, TEA DRINKING IN JAPAN HAS EVOLVED INTO A SPIRITUAL IDEAL KNOWN AS CHADO ("THE WAY OF TEA"). FROM ITS INTRODUCTION TO THE ARCHIPELAGO, TEA WAS ENDOWED WITH GREAT VALUE AND QUICKLY BECAME THE CENTER OF AN ELABORATE RITUAL. TODAY, IN BOTH THEIR METHODS OF CULTIVATION AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT OF THE CEREMONY THAT ACCOMPANIES TEA DRINKING, THE JAPANESE HAVE CREATED A UNIQUE PRODUCT, WORTHY OF THEIR REFINED AND DEMANDING CULTURE. A JAPANESE LEGEND EXPLAINING THE DISCOVERY OF TEA INVOLVES BODHIDHARMA, A SIXTH-CENTURY INDIAN PRINCE AND THE FOUNDER OF CHAN BUDDHISM, WHICH WOULD BECOME ZEN BUDDHISM IN THE 12TH CENTURY. ACCORDING TO THE LEGEND, BODHIDHARMA MADE THE IMPOSSIBLE VOW OF NEVER SUCCUMBING TO SLEEP SO THAT HE COULD DEVOTE HIMSELF TO ENDLESS MEDITATION. HOWEVER, ONE DAY, EXHAUSTED FROM HIS CONSTANT WAKEFULNESS, HE FELL ASLEEP. WHEN HE AWOKE, ENRAGED AT HAVING INTERRUPTED HIS MEDITATION, HE TORE OFF HIS EYELIDS AND BURIED THEM. A FEW YEARS LATER, PASSING BY THE EXACT SAME SPOT, HE SAW THAT TWO MAGNIFICENT BUSHES WITH OBLONG LEAVES HAD GROWN THERE: HIS EYELIDS HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO TWO TEA TREES.