Tea was introduced into Korea during the times of Queen Seondeok (632—646). In 828, the ambassador to China (under the Tang Dynasty at the time) took tea seeds back to Korea, and planted them at the foot of mountains with the imperial court’ s permission. Tea has become a popular drink in South Korea since.
The Korai period (936—1392) is usually called the heyday of tea drinking. Tea was considered to be essential in nobles’ and monks’ lives, and it was popular with the working class as well.. There were 35 tea-producing areas in total and Ru tea, Queshe tea, Zisun tea, Lingya tea and Xiang tea were mass-produced and famous across the world.
After the Russo-Japanese War, Japanese adopted some of the Korean tea culture. They set up several schools like the pear flower female school to teach females tea ceremony. At the same time, 47 high schools in Korea offered courses related to tea culture for students. Gradually, Koreans mixed some Korean elements with Japanese tea ceremony and formed their own distinct tea culture.
There are three features of Korean tea culture: the wide participation of the public, the inheritance of history, and the development and innovation of traditional tea culture.
The production of tea in South Korea is not large nowadays (only 1500 tons are exported per year), but almost everyone in Korea is a tea consumer. There are many nationwide organizations and clubs which are established for advertising and generalizing tea culture. They hold meetings and events related to tea culture around the country and even the world.
Some universities in Korea give courses related to tea, and even a few have a department of tea. They stress an importance on tea culture development and spare no effort to promote it.
Korea is known as a country of ceremony and puts a high value on manners of youth. Adult tea ceremonies are a way to teach young people manners through tea culture. After learning the art, parents of the young people and guests come into the living room in sequence, and accept a tea offer from the young people. The procedure is pretty complicated, but it means a lot to Koreans.