Are you a coffee lover or a tea lover ?
If you’re one of latter, what kind of tea do you drink black tea of Ceylon, Earl Grey, or English breakfast?
Have you ever sipped green tea or Japanese tea?
If no, welcome to an exotic world of dried-up leaves that will make your visit to Japan all the more interesting.
<What is Japanese tea?>
There are countless types of tea in Japan such as mugicha (barley), sobacha (buckwheat), and countless types of herbs, some made with ancient wisdom, and others newly developed.
What people commonly refer to as Japanese tea usually means green tea, and is in Japan simply called “Tea”.
(日本茶/nihoncha/cha means tea, nihon means Japan)
Japanese green tea, being so popular, is grown almost all around Japan – from Aomori, almost the entire mainland, to Okinawa, the southern island prefecture, which ensures a huge variety of types and brands of Japanese green tea, yet all of these are made from just one type of tree.
While the black tea, which you might be familiar with, is completely fermented, green tea doesn’t undergo any fermentation process, but is merely steamed, rubbed and dried.
When you consider tea connected with Japan, you might imagine about a bowl filled with vivid green bubble served at tea ceremony, but the most famous and popular type of green tea is sencha(煎茶) and people drink it by brewing in a pot or a cup.
(Sencha is loosen tea leaves. On the the hand the tea used in tea ceremony is matcha(抹茶) and it’s powder of tea leaves )
<History of Japanese green tea>
As you read about this so far, you might guess that Japan is the origin of tea and it’s been appreciated by all citizens for more than thousands of years.
Sorry, both not.
It is said that tea tree seeds were brought to Japan by Japanese envoy and monks from Tang dynasty of China in 7th century.
In a similar trend to our modern tendency to copy fashion of celebrities, tea first became popular among aristocracy and spread to samurai class.
Then tea culture gradually started to bloom among them because most of tea farms were owned by samurai families.
In 15th century, cha-no-yu(茶の湯), the origin of tea ceremony was sophisticated into the style which we nowadays know by samurais and wealthy merchants but not like the one in our modern days, it was only familiar with limited classes.
After Meiji-revolution, in the end of 19th –the beginning of 20th century, samurai-classes were dismantled and tea farms were passed into farmers’ possession.
At last, the taste and culture flourished among commoners.
Even less than 100 years after becoming essential part for citizens, tea has already deeply rooted in Japanese society and spirit.
How? Let’s check it out!
<Green tea, everywhere >
Green tea is like blood for Japanese.
If you come to Japan, you won’t have even one day to not see green tea or its products.
Have a simulation how often you have chances to taste it in a day.
・In the morning:
No matter where you stay, hotel or friends’ house, you’ll get warm by a cup with your breakfast.
・In an office
People believe that tea is like all-purpose medicine.
It improves your ability of concentration and makes you feel relaxed at the same time. In a break, you’ll find automatic tea-brewing machine which you can chose hot or cold.
If you can’t, probably your colleagues might bring you a cup with green tea sweets such as green tea Kitkat.
・Off to shopping
From department store to convenience store, you can’t avoid to not see something related to green tea.
If you go to a department store, you’ll surely find tea shops owned by tea farms, confectionaries selling green-colored sweets and pick a bottle up from choices of selection at a convenience store as well as on candy shelf.
When you drop by a café, first of all you’ll be served a welcome drink.
・In the evening
If you go to any restaurants you can eat Japanese food such as tempra, sushi, eel etc, you’ll be guaranteed to have at least a cup even you don’t order it because eating Japanese food with tea is implicit sense here !
After you finish your last drop in your bed, you might see a dream colored with green…
Now you know that whether you want or not, you’ll feel the taste of Japan.
Hope you have good ones and adopt it to your life.