Do you like drinking tea?
Japanese people drink a lot of tea, especially green tea.
Tea culture is one of the most important parts of our food culture.
According to the survey done by Ministry of Agriculture, the market size of tea in Japan is about 100 billion yen a year (as of 2016).
Among a lot of prefectures that produce tea, Shizuoka, Kagoshima, and Mie prefectures take 70% of the tea farms (17,800, 8,610, and 3,040 hectare respectively).
Thanks to the growing popularity of Japanese food, the amount of Japanese tea exported increased 4 times during ten years from 2006, and the number is expected to get bigger each year.
It’s all about Japanese tea this time.
Have fun reading!
History of Japanese tea
About 1,300 years ago, tea was introduced to Japan from China.
It was only available to riches and noblemen who used it to cure illness.
Later in the Kamakura Period (1192 to 1333), the custom of making/drinking tea from
powdered leaves (Matcha of today) became popular thanks to the founder of Japanese Zen Buddhist, Eisai, who learned the tea culture in China and brought it back (this was the start of tea ceremony in Japan).
Drinking tea became popular among people of all social classes during the Muromachi Period (1333 to 1573).
Kiki-cha, or the game of guessing the names of tea by sipping and smelling became popular and to this date, we enjoy drinking teas on various occasions.
The Japanese tea ceremony is called 茶道 (Sado/the way of tea).
Zen Buddhism was the main influence that created this art of serving and sharing time of drinking tea in a group.
Matcha is usually drunk during the ceremony with certain manner.
Seasons are important elements to the enjoyment of tea, and 手前 (Temae), the art of serving tea differs every season.
Different utensils, equipment, hanging scroll are used according to the season, and the configurations of the tatami (4.5 mat room) changes.
Types of Japanese tea
There are many types of Japanese teas and their taste and smell differ greatly.
Below are 5 major kinds. All of them are available at a major supermarket in Japan.
If you have a chance, you should try them all to see which one you prefer!
抹茶 Matcha/Powdered green tea
Tea plants that have been grown under shade are used to make Matcha powder.
They are ground down and whisked with hot water to make Matcha tea.
It has bitter flavor and refreshing, enjoyable scent.
煎茶 Sencha/Loose leaf green tea
It is the most popular kind of tea and widely available in Japan.
Unlike Matcha leaves, it is made from tea plants that were grown in full sun.
To make tea, you need to put Sencha leaves in hot water and wait until the water turns green.
It is said that drinking Sencha has many benefits for health such as lowering cholesterol and body fat.
ほうじ茶 Hojicha/Roasted green tea
Roasted stems and leaves are used to make Hojicha.
It has a nutty, warm flavor and the color is brownish.
Since it doesn’t have much caffeine compared to other types of tea, it is an ideal drink for the morning or late at night.
玄米茶 Genmaicha/Green tea with roasted brown rice
It is made from green tea with roasted rice.
Roasted rice adds nutty flavor making the tea less bitter.
麦茶 Mugicha/Barley tea
Roasted barley is used to make this type of tea.
It is usually packed in a small bag and infused in water.
It doesn’t have much bitterness, and is caffeine-free.
It is usually served cold and especially popular in the summer time.
Not to mention, Japanese tea goes really well with Japanese food.
Paring Japanese teas with vegetable and seafood is very common.
You can find Green tea (usually Sencha) at any Japanese restaurants.
My brother is a tea specialist by the way.
He visits farms to find fine tea leaves and blends them.
He makes many kinds of teas from Green tea to Chai tea.
Although he is only 2 years older than I am, we live very differently! haha
This is me and my brother in Kyoto.
About 10 year ago!
What’s your favorite kind of drink?
Post a comment below!
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