Japanese tea – tea culture, history and ceremonies

Japanese tea – tea culture, history and ceremonies

From Sencha to Gyokuro

The ancient culture of Japan offers many fascinating culinary delights. Japanese tea, especially green tea, is a delicacy that is tainted with many traditions. Come with us on a journey through the rich world of Japanese tea culture. Discover the history of traditional tea ceremonies as well as the unique taste of Japanese teas.

Remember: You can always check our shop page for our recommended products that we tested ourselves. We’ve tested espresso makers, espresso machines both fully automatic and portafilters, coffee beans and coffee utensils.

The origins of tea culture in Japan

Green tea has been an indispensable part of Japanese culture since the 1st century AD. It was introduced from China in the Nara period (709-784) and initially drunk as a medicine by Buddhist monks. In the subsequent Heian period (784-1185), drinking tea became popular with Japanese laypeople as well. The first tea ceremony near Kyoto was held around the year 800, laying an important cornerstone of Japan’s rich culture. The tea brought from China was now also grown in Japan.

Sencha and Matcha – the most important teas in Japan

In Japan, green tea is especially valued and drunk frequently. The most popular tea is called Sencha, which is prepared with whole fermented tea leaves and hot water. Matcha, on the other hand, plays an important role in the Japanese tea ceremony. This tea is made from powdered green tea leaves. Matcha is therefore thicker than Sencha tea, in which the leaves sink to the bottom of the bowl and are not drunk with it.

Another tea that is enjoyed in Japan and is considered the highest quality Japanese tea in Europe is Gyokuro, also a green tea. This is grown in the shade in the Uji region, near the city of Kyoto, which means that it only has very low levels of bitter substances. Gyokuro tea is characterized by a gentle taste with a slight sweetness.

A very special green tea – the Matcha tea

Even though Matcha tea was probably developed in China, it was forgotten here and is now considered a typical Japanese drink. The finely ground powder still plays an important role in the tea ceremony developed by Buddhist monks.
Its intense, green color is created by grinding the leaves, which are usually shaded four weeks before harvest and then steamed, dried and all of the coarse leaf vessels removed after harvest. The resulting tea is considered to be particularly noble and guarantees that non-water-soluble components are also consumed. The taste of the tea is lovely and sweet and slightly tart when picked later.

For the preparation of a Matcha tea, the powder is put into a bowl and poured over 80 ° C hot water. Now you have to beat the drink with a bamboo whisk, the cha-sen, until frothy. Tea lovers use matcha powder not only for teas of different viscosities, such as the strong “koi-cha” or the thinner “usu-cha”, but also for trendy drinks such as matcha latte or for delicious recipes such as cheesecake, ice cream and other delicacies.

The tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony

A Japanese tea ceremony “cha-do” is a very special experience where you can immerse yourself in the centuries-old traditions that began in Kyoto. As early as the 13th century, the Buddhist abbot Eisai developed the tea drinking ceremony to wean his master, the youthful and probably very dissolute shogun of Japan, from excessive wine consumption. He gave precise instructions on how to prepare it and how to drink the tea during the ceremony. To this day, some of this religious origin has been preserved in the tea ceremony.

The garden, in which the extremely simply designed tea house is located, plays an important role in the tea ceremony. While the garden path, on which those invited to tea stroll, symbolizes the first stage of enlightenment and prepares them for the following tea ceremony, a stone water basin filled with fresh water serves to cleanse the mouth and hands. With this, the guests symbolically wash off everything bad that they have done or said before they enter the tea house.

In the tea house itself, light dishes such as rice, soups and pickled vegetables as well as sake are now served. Then the tea is prepared. To do this, the host carries the missing tea utensils into the tea room and arranges them in such a way that they enable harmonious movements.

In addition to the tea bowl and the tea caddy for the powder tea, usually green tea, a fresh water vessel, an iron kettle, a silk tea towel, a bamboo tea spoon and a tea whisk are among the most important utensils that should not be missing at any Japanese tea ceremony.

Rituals during the tea ceremony

In fact, the Japanese tea ceremony is less of a ceremony or ritual than a way of life that you walk in the garden of your host. Literally translated, “cha-do” means tea path – and this is determined by four principles that Sen no Rikyu has already established. Wa Kei Sei Jaku – that is, harmony, respect, purity and silence.

Wa – A tea ceremony is determined by harmony between guest and host, as well as by harmoniously coordinated dishes and tea utensils used.

Kei – respect for people arises from a natural feeling of gratitude, but also applies to all things, especially the careful handling of the tea equipment.

Be – With the symbolic cleaning at the water basin, one frees oneself from the “dust of everyday life” and thus brings order into his heart and mind.

Coffee - 46989
Coffee - 46989
Jaku – In the quiet of the garden and the tea house, guests can find inner contemplation.

Discover the Japanese delights – our teas

If you want to discover the taste of Japan, we offer you some interesting products in our shop, such as the Ronnefeldt Matcha Premix. This beverage powder can be prepared quickly and easily. Among other things, it is suitable for delicious tea creations such as Matcha Latte or a refreshing Matcha smoothie with fruit juice.

We also recommend the Ronnefeldt bamboo whisk for the stylish frothing of your Japanese Matcha tea. This Matcha tea whisk made of bamboo (“Chasen”) conjures up a perfect and firm foam for the delicious Matcha tea.
The whole procedure is particularly easy with the Ronnefeldt Matcha Set, which contains a Matcha bowl, the bamboo whisk, an associated holder and the organically grown Matcha Midori.

We offer lovers of Japanese Sencha tea an interesting Ayurvedic green tea blend. The Yogi Green Energy offers a fresh, distinctive taste, which is characterized by guarana, ginger, elderflower, dried kombucha extract and lemon verbena. A delicious treat both hot and cold.

Suggested Reading:

The tea ceremony in different cultures

Store tea properly

How to properly prepare green tea

Conclusion

In Japan, the properties of green tea enter into a spiritual connection with meditative ceremonies. With the enjoyment of the Japanese tea and the ritual of its preparation, you shed everyday life. Bring a piece of Japan into your home with the right green tea and the right accessories – enjoy it!