From the time of the Shilla Kingdom to the Koryö and Chosön Dynasties, tea was drunk by all classes of people; royalty, aristocrats, literati, monks, soldiers and commoners, However, the literati were the class that nurtured and developed the tea ceremony. In comparison, in Japan the tradition of the tea ceremony was centered around the warriors and in China, the aristocracy.
Ted flourishing tea culture of the literati peaked from the 12th century, the middle of the Koryö Dynasty. to the 15th century. the beginning of the Chosön Danasty, and again from the 18th century to the end of the Chosön Dynasty. During Koryö, the major proponents of tea culture wee the Neo-Confucians, and at the end of Chosön, the scholars of Shirhak (practical learning). The tea ceremony flourished among the literati scholars. They wrote much poetry about tea; six scholars in particular left more than 70 poems on the subject-Yi Saek, Sö Kö-Jöng, Kim Shi-süp, Chöng Yag-yong, Shin-Wi and Hong Hyön-ju. There are probably more Korean poems about tea than Chinese ones.
This trend has been passed on. and today tea drinkers can be found among scholars, artists and social leaders who study not only the methods of tea preparation but also the classical tea literature of their ancestors.
From long ago, government officials considered tea drinking an important ritual. In particular. those employed in the judiciary ranch of government considered tea drinking to be part of their work; they believed that drinking tea with formality enabled them to engage in official business witheout prejudice.
During the Koryö and Chosön Dynasties, the Office of the Inspector General held regular tea ceremonies. In the early years of Chosön, every government office in Seoul held tea ceremonies, and a special pavilion was reserved for this activity; sometimes the tea ceremony itself was the object of official business. During meetings held to decide on executions and banishments, Koryö kings drank tea with formality, and government officials ceremoniously followed the king's example before reaching a final decision.
Government officials considered the tea ceremony important because it was influenced by Confucian philosophy. They drank tea regularly in an effort to promote fairness and honesty, and Korea boasts many government officials whose fair and wise administrative practices were at least partly attributable to their adherence to the Confucian principles underlying the tea ceremony.
During the Shilla and Koryöperiods, there were teahouses throughout the countryside where government officials could stop and drink tea during official journeys. Koryö government officials drank tea frequently in "tea offices" in the capital.
During the Koryö Dynasty, there was a government office called the Tabang, or Tea Chamber, that supervised tea rites in the court and royal quarters for foreign guests and for various officials and soldiers of various rank were assigned to the Tabang to transport water pots, portable stoves, tea sets and tea when the king or the crown prince left the palace to attend a function.