Tango, the 5th of May, is one of the season’s sectional days which originated in China. A folk custom of drinking Acorus Calamus wine on the Tango day was adopted in Zen temples through drinking Acorus Calamus tea.
Acorus Calamus tea originated in Chan temples of the Northern Song Dynasty, and in the Southern Song it was introduced to Japan. It is confirmed in written documents that ever since Acorus Calamus tea was brought into Japan in the Kamakura period, its adaptation continued until the beginning of the Meiji period.
References to the drinking of Acorus Calamus tea are found exclusively in historical materials related to Zen temples, so that it can be regarded as unique to Zen culture. However, this tradition of drinking Acorus Calamus tea has died out both in China and in Japan.
By reproducing Acorus Calamus tea according to the references shown in historical materials of Zen temples, it is known to be a strong green tea with chopped leaves of Acorus Calamus added to it, and while drinking the Acorus Calamus tea, leaves should be crunched to taste the additional bitterness which was believed to exorcize evil spirits. However, in the Edo period, Tango tended to have a celebratory character,and was gradually made into a festive event with the tradition of Acorus Calamus tea.
In Medieval Japan’s Zen temples, the custom of China’s Southern Song Dynasty’s Chan culture to drink Acorus Calamus tea to exorcize evil spirits was well developed.