Like most Asian cultures, the Japanese are also fond of drinking tea. Drinking tea has been a part of their culture since the 9th century, when a Buddhist monk introduced this profound beverage on his return from China. Back then, tea was already drunk in China for centuries as a medicinal and recreational beverage.
In history, drinking tea in Japan is considered to be a practice done by the elite, having been introduced as a special drink to emperors. Today, drinking tea is considered as a healthy practice and a part of a tradition in showing hospitality.
The main type of tea consumed and produced in Japan is green tea. There are various types of Japanese tea which are named according to the region they are produced, or the way the tea leaves are processed.
Gyokuro is considered as the highest grade of tea made in Japan. It is made by shading the tea plant from direct sunlight for about 2 weeks prior to harvesting. During this process, the sunlight received by the plant is diffused, making the plant produce more chlorophyll. Only the fresh leaf buds are used. The resulting tea has a mild, sweet, fresh and flowery taste.
Sencha is another type of Japanese tea. When you visit a Japanese home, it is the tea most likely to be served to you. It is not as special as Gyokuro, but it is the tea most likely to be served to honored guests.
Genmaicha is another type of Japanese tea that is gaining popularity in the western countries. It has a slightly nutty flavor due to the addition of toasted brown rice, and sometimes, corn. It has low caffeine content and has a mild flavor.
When talking about Japanese tea, one cannot neglect the topic on Japanese tea ceremony, or Chanoyu. It is a tradition done between a host and guests using tea as a spiritual tool. During this ceremony, drinking tea is celebrated and the emphasis is given on the simplicity of the environment and finding beauty in it.
Truly, tea is a celebrated beverage. It is a significant part of many cultures. It is a special, one of a kind beverage that nowadays, anyone from around the world has the privilege to enjoy.