Although, there is speculation that the tea tree (camellia sinensis) was native to Japan, it is a more common belief that Buddhist Monks training in China brought the beverage back with them around the eighth century.In either case it is the eighth century that tea is first mentioned in Japanese records.
At this time tea was pressed into bricks and shaved directly into boiling water. However, tea, as with all things Chinese, fell out of favor with the declining Tang Dynasty. Fortunately, Japanese Buddhist Monks continued drinking tea. Tea even becoming part of Buddhist ceremonies, offerings and holidays.
Tea entered a new era in Japan when the Monk Eisai, a tea enthusiast, brought powdered tea back from China in 1191 of the common era. As an advocate of tea Eisai wrote a two volume treatise outlining the virtues of tea and the cultivation. In addition to his advocacy and literature, Eisai brought seeds back from China and was able to get some Buddhist temples to plant and cultivate them. By the fourteenth century tea plants spread from monetarist to local farms. During this time tea regained its popularity spreading from Buddhist monasteries to the aristocracy, the warrior class and finally the common people. To this day tea is enjoyed by every fabric of Japanese society and is the National Beverage.