When you hear “tea”, which tea comes to your mind? English tea, Chinese tea, Japanese tea…?

If you speak about Japanese ones, green tea may come to your mind first. Sure, green tea is the most famous Japanese tea in the world, but we have various kinds of tea besides green tea. More specifically, we make a variety different of teas from the same kinds of leaves used for green tea, which means most (we can say all) teas are basically from the same leaves! When you find brown-colored tea, you may not imagine that is also from the same leaves as green tea! Today, I will introduce some Japanese teas and how to have a conversation about them.


Three kinds of tea you may talk about in Japanese:

1. 抹茶(まっちゃ) Matcha 
2. 緑茶(りょくちゃ) Green Tea
3. ほうじ茶 Hojicha


Going out to have tea with your friend:

A: ねぇ、お茶しない?
(nee, ocha shinai?)
  Hey, why don’t we get some tea?
B: いいよ。スターバックスに行こう?
(iiyo, sutaa bakkusu ni ikou?)
 Sure. Let’s go to Starbucks?

Wait! Starbucks? That is a coffee shop. A asked B to go to get some tea, so why did B suggest to go to Starbucks? When we go out, “tea” does not mean “tea” but “coffee (shop)”. So do not say:
「いや、お茶はあまり飲まない」(iya, ocha wa amari noma nai)
“No, I don’t drink tea very much”.
You can say:
「コーヒーあまり好きじゃない」(koohii Amari suki janai)
“I don’t like coffee so much”


At your friend’s house:

A: お茶飲む?(ocha nomu?)
  Want some tea?
B: うん。(un)
A: 何のお茶がいい?(nanno ocha ga ii?)
  What kind?
B: ほうじ茶。(houji-cha)
A: オッケー!(okkee!)

In this case, “tea” means “tea”. If you would like to have some coffee, you have to say:
「コーヒーがいい」 (koohii ga ii)
I prefer coffee.

When you get some tea, please do not put sugar in it. It is not English tea. Do not put anything in it, but drink it as it is. When I was in Canada, I was looking for green tea and I found it at a convenience store. But, when I drank it, it tasted sweet! I do not call it real Japanese green tea, but it may be Canadian green tea. Japanese tea may be too bitter for them.


When you have a guest at your home:

Do not ask anything, but just give some “緑茶(ryoku-cha) to your guest. Not 抹茶(maccha) or ほうじ茶(houji-cha). Usually, we serve 抹茶 at a tea ceremony. Some people may drink 抹茶 at home at times, but that’s not common. I have my own tea set for 抹茶, but I seldom use it. ほうじ茶 is cheap tea, so it is not good to give it to your guests. Because of those reasons, 緑茶 is the best to give when you have a guest at your home.


A: こちらどうぞ。(kochira douzo)
  Please have some.
B: いいえ、お気になさらず。(iie, okini nasarazu)
  No, please don’t bother yourself.
A: (お菓子を出しながら) 少しですが、どうぞ。([okashi o dashi nagara] sukoshi desuga, douzo)
 (with some sweets) It’s really nothing much, if you would like.
B: すみません。ではいただきます。(sumimasen. Dewa itadakimasu)
  Oh, thank you very much.


Hero Image by Nomadis Lass (CC by 2.0)