Thursday, December 14, 2006

Green Tea and Wa

I am a tea-person and though I enjoy all kinds of tea, my favorite of all is Japanese green tea. Part of it may be the fact that all my grandparents live in Japan's top green tea producing prefecture, but put aside that, I like the fragrance and taste. Most times the bottled drinks I buy at supermarkets and convenience stores are green tea of one kind or another, and I like to pour some hot green tea after dinner.

It was in the news a couple of days ago that lately green tea's pretty big in many countries around the world. The day people appreciate it varies depending on the country but as far as I know most of the "drinking methods" involve a whole lot of sugar and flavor addition. Um...

Like I wrote in the "Authenticity" article I don't want to be to nationalist on the ways food and drinks from Japan are being enjoyed outside of Japan, but personally, I don't appreciate green tea to be sweet or fruity. I have experiences trying what was called green tea in the States and also in Singapore and I was shocked by the taste. They were nothing like what I expected to be. I mean, the taste was good as a beverage but it wasn't any kind of green tea that I've known of.
I hear that the reason for green tea to be so popular is because of its rich health effects, but how healthy is it if you add so much sugar...?

Anyway, green tea has been around in Japan for more than a millennium and it is so naturally a part of our daily diet, but it has been re-gathering attention and re-picking up popularity in the past couple of years. In another words, green tea is huge in Japan too like other parts of the world. The reason for its popularity is more or less the same as elsewhere, its rich health benefits. I won't go into it right now because I want to write an article about it not on this blog but on Japan Mode.

I also suppose that the whole movement of reflecting back on "Japanese-ness" or the "Wa" boom lately plays a role, too. Not so much about the fact of drinking green tea but the prints and patterns on the bottles and packages as well as the tiny free gifts or campaigns the manufacturers hold are deeply related to "Wa". "Wa" is like nationalism - NOT in the sense of politics, but culture and tradition. Since a large part of Japanese culture and tradition has to do with living in harmony with the nature, looking back at "wa" arouses a sense of comfort (which in Japanese English is called "healing") and relaxation in this society of chaotic busyness and overabundance of materials.

So, that's the 21st century green tea situation in Japan.
And today's update:
Green Tea (go figure) - it's actually going to be a series cuz there's a lot I want to write about, and "Green Tea" is supposedly going to be the first series for this section called "Japanese Tea Culture" in which I plan to add the situations in Japan for Chinese tea and English tea.

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