When the land of Nishio awoke to tea production,
there was the strong spirited founder of AIYA.
In the early days of Heian period, Japanese envoys such as Saicho brought back tea culture from China.
Japan actively began tea cultivation in the late Heian period.
Initially, tea was used as medicine among aristocrats, later it was gradually introduced to commoners and tea cultivation spread through out the nation beginning with Kita-Kyushu region.
Tea came to the Nishio region in the Kamakura period. Shoichi Kokushi, a high-rank monk, who found Jisso Temple, brought tea seeds from Song Dynasty and planted the seeds in the precincts of his temple in 1271; that is said to be the beginning of the Nishio tea.
Full-scale tea cultivation began in Nishio in around 1872. During this time Japan ended the national isolation and started exporting raw silk and tea. In midst of such social background, there was a growing trend of cultivating tea in Nishio and many people in Nishio were ambitious in tea business. Aijiro Sugita and Tsurukichi Sugita developed tea fields in Mt. Inari area. This is where AIYA originated.
The feature of Nishio tea is that they aimed to produce high-class tea exemplified by Gyokuro from the beginning. To produce the best tea. That was the strong aspiration among Nishio people. In 1888, Aijiro Sugishita found the Sugishita Shoten, a tea and indigo plant production company.