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Green Tea / O-cha (Longevity Series Part 3)

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

If you are riding trains from Tokyo heading west, you will see intricately undulated tea plantations on the mountain side in Shizuoka prefecture. In early May, you might see farmers among the neatly lined rows of tea bushes harvesting newly grown leaves. The new leaves become the highest-grade green tea and are in high demand. Shizuoka prefecture is the number one green tea producing region. Kagoshima (Chirancha) and Fukuoka (Yamecha) also are famous regions that produce quality green tea. In recent years, you often hear the word “maccha” as an added flavor of tea/coffee or desserts. Maccha is grinded into a powdered form of green tea, and not commonly consumed in Japan as an everyday drink; however, they are used for a traditional tea celemory. The green teas that are consumed in daily basis are Sencha, Bancha, or Houjicha; higher to lower grade respectively. Sencha is made after tea leaves are steamed and dried while being rolled by hand (or machine), so it maintains some texture of leaves. There is tea-bag version of Sencha available now a days, but I haven’t encountered decent tea-bag green tea yet. To have good Sencha, you must have quality leaves first, then use hot water at the optimal temperature (160-175F, 70-80C) and have a Zen mind-set (calm and not rushing).

Just like many British people drink black tea and Americans have coffee throughout the day, Japanese people drink green tea, hot and cold. On the table of a Japanese household, you will likely find a tea pot called Kyuusu and a cylindrical container for leaves made of tin called Chazutsu. Younger generations might choose coffee or black tea (Koucha) to start the day, but the older generation still prefers green tea to the other drinks. I will let you research the efficacies of drinking green tea, but in short, a type of Polyphenols contained in green tea helps you lose weight, reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and build up your immune system. Such health benefits certainly contribute to Japanese longevity and quality of life. In the United States, unfortunately, it is difficult to procure first-rate green tea at a decent price, so next time you are in Japan and if you want to try a green-tea regimen, it might be a good idea to stuff your suitcase with sencha packages. Affordable, yet fine quality sencha can be found at local grocery stores.

Japan, tea, ocha, cha, fuji, plantation
Shizuoka tea plantation and Fuji mountain


A: こんにちは。

B: いらっしゃい。久(ひさ)しぶり。どうぞ上(あ)がってください

A: はい、じゃ、お邪魔(じゃま)します

B: お茶(ちゃ)を入れましょう。おいしい緑茶(りょくちゃ)がちょうど鹿児島(かごしま)から届(とど)いたんですよ。知覧茶(ちらんちゃ)っていうんだけど 飲(の)んだことありますか

A: 知覧茶ですか。いいえ、聞(き)いことはあるけど飲んだことはありません。家(うち)はいつも静岡(しずおか)のお茶を飲むんです。

B: 静岡のお茶よりちょっと濃い目(こいめ)だけど、コクがあっておいしいですよ。

A: じゃ、私(わたし)が持(も)って来(き)たお土産(みやげ)を開(あ)けましょうよ。あんこ最中(もなか)を持って来ました。お茶に合(あ)いますよ。

B: それは、嬉(うれ)しい。じゃ、早速(さっそく)お湯(ゆ)を沸(わ)かしましょう。

Japanese tea, green tea, ocha
Kyuusu and tea cups


お茶 Ocha – Cha means tea. “O” is a beautifying particle for the nouns with Japanese pronunciation. i.e. O-mizu, O-kome, O-sake. Ocha generally refers to green tea.

紅茶 Koucha – n. black tea. It refers to British black tea. Interestingly, the Chinese character for “Kou” refers to red color, not black.

知覧茶 Chiran-cha n. a brand name of green tea produced in Kagoshima (Southern most prefecture of Kyushu island).

八女茶 Yame-cha n, a brand name of green tea produced in Fukuoka (Northern most prefecture of Kyushu island).

急須 Kyuusu n. a teapot for green tea

茶筒 Chazutsu n. a cylindrical tin can to store green tea leaves.

久しぶり n. an expression for “being a while”. By adding a particle に, you can express activities you’ve stayed away from for a while. e.g. 久しぶりにテニスをしました。 I played tennis after staying away from it a while.

上がってください Please come up. An expression to invite people into your house. See Japanese House article to understand why “Come up” is used instead of “Come in”.

お邪魔します An expression being used when you are entering someone’s assumed territory. The literal meaning is “I will interfere.” This expression is used when you are invited into someone’s living space.

ことがある た-form + ことがある I have (done). You can also create Plain form verbs+ことがある。Discuss how meaning would change compare to た-form + ことがある. Also, discuss why subject maker is omitted from the first usage, and “は” is used in the response.

より p. than, rather than. Here, “stronger than Shizuoka-tea”.

濃い目 n. stronger side. By someイ-adj preceding 目, it adds the meaning of “leaning toward/side”. i.e. 大きめ、少なめ、薄め Unlike the usage to create ordinal numbers (一つ目、2日目), it tends to be written in hiragana.

コクがある rich taste. Rather than using a kanji character, 酷(こく), Katakana is normally used for this expression.

あんこ n. pasty sweet bean

最中 n. Monaka, a Japanese sweet. Pasty sweet bean is wrapped by a thin wafer. When the same kanji is read as “saichuu”, it doesn’t refer to the sweet. It changes the meaning to “right in the middle of doing something”. i.e. 食事(しょくじ)の最中(さいちゅう)、食事をしている最中

合う v. to match, to fit.

沸かす v. to boil intransitive version is 沸く

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