Shiitake have been raised in the Far East for over 6,000 years, and used for food and medicine since prehistoric times. Shiitake mushrooms first became available in the U.S. in 1940. The name "shiitake" comes from the Japanese "shii take" meaning "shii mushroom". Shii is a Japanese tree related to the oak and beech on which these mushrooms are seen most often in nature. Dried shiitake are great to cook with, are a great source of multiple dietary vitamins, and can store for upwards of a year without spoiling.