Whether sencha, matcha or genmaicha - Japan is world-renowned for its green teas. So every sip is a voyage into a past full of traditions: Japan has cultivated teas for more than 1000 years. Initially the drink was loved for its outstanding flavour and for health reasons, above all by the nobility, the samurai.
Monks favoured the drink to help keep them awake during meditation. Over time, new types and preparation techniques were developed, and tea conquered the masses. Tea has remained an icon of Japanese culture right up to today.
In addition to sushi, origami, martial arts and mangas, one thing in particular characterises Japan: a thousand-year-old tea culture, the origins of which are estimated between 800 and 1200 CE. According to legend, Buddhist monks from China brought the first green tea seeds to Japan and started to cultivate them in temples. Over the years, the traditional tea ceremony developed. First rules for preparation were set and consumption expanded throughout the nobility and beyond Japan’s borders. Japan is the second largest green tea producer in the world after China. And green tea is still the favourite among the Japanese today. When one speaks of tea in Japan – “ocha”“ (お茶), the Japanese always mean green tea, which makes up more than 90 percent of overall production. Even though its origins lie in China, Japanese tea is not comparable to the Chinese types. Generally speaking, tea tends to align itself with the cuisine prevailing in a given country. Accordingly, the methods of preparation in China and Japan are as different as their cuisines: In Japan, green tea is usually steamed, while in China it is heated over a hearth after harvesting.
The region around the city of Uji is the cradle of tea cultivation in Japan, where tea has been cultivated and processed since the 800s CE. In general, tea cultivation is possible nearly everywhere in Japan, because the conditions for the heat-seeking tea plant are ideal all over the country. Uji has a special reputation among green tea lovers because the region produces particularly high quality and flavourful varieties. The small town of about 180,000 inhabitants is in an idyllic location on the river of the same name and was always a favourite of the nobility. Accordingly, there are many historic sights there. With numerous ancient temples and shrines, bridges, gardens and tea fields, Uji has much to offer. The famous Uji tea with its long tradition rounds off your visit, either during a tea ceremony or in one of the many tea houses and shops. You can also find the oldest tea shop in Japan in the town: The “Tsuen” family business was opened in 1160 is now in its 24th generation.
The Japanese tea ceremony: Stylish tea houses with zen gardens, tatami mats, people dressed in noble silk kimonos, utensils such as matcha bowls and cast iron pots trigger wanderlust. Tea culture in Japan is rich in rituals which have hardly changed since their inception. From a European point of view, the ritual preparation, often taking hours to complete in total silence, may seem strange, but most Europeans still find it immensely fascinating. Each element and each movement have its meaning.
What appears stiff at first glance, is actually very eclectic: There are thousands of variations in the ritual. The actual performance depends on factors such as the time of year or day, the guests, the room and the utensils. In general, great value is placed on simplicity, nothing should be over the top, according to the motto: “Less is more”. This principle also applies to the way tea is consumed. Japanese teapots hold a maximum of 360 millilitres. Because in Japan tea is not just about taking on fluids, it is seen as something very special.
Even if tea is still an important component of Japanese culture today, the tea rituals themselves are only performed by a small section of society. Of course, Japanese tea culture has adapted to the requirements of modern society. But it is still common to offer a cup of tea to guests at every private and business meeting before the actual topic is discussed. Above all the younger generation is increasingly distancing itself from the traditions.
Unlike in the previous generation, you no longer find tea and tea sets in every household. Young Japanese would rather drink it “on the go” or in the hip modern tea houses in the big cities. Tea is also being re-interpreted in a variety of ways: In Japanese tea shops, cafés and supermarkets, you’ll often find on the shelves baked goods, chocolate or even cosmetics that were refined with matcha, and cocktails with a shot of tea are often on the menus in bars.
The variety of typical Japanese types is also reflected in the Avoury range with JAPANESE TRIO, SUPREME GYOKURO or ORIGINAL GENMAICHA. With Avoury you can get the infusion time, the brewing temperature and the water quality you need at the touch of a button. Most Japanese tea varieties taste better if they are brewed with 60 °C water and infused for a short time. Avoury One knows the requirements for each tea and thus ensures the most authentic and easiest tea enjoyment with success guaranteed. Avoury One is the smart and modern way of addressing the fascinating complex preparation process for perfect Japanese tea.
- Two of the oldest teas in Japan, matcha and sencha, meet in the JAPANESE TRIO; and matcha above all plays the starring role in many tea ceremonies. These classics are enhanced by the typical Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, which adds a fresh, fruity note to the tart green tea flavour. Its juice is a favourite in fine Japanese cuisine to refine meat or fish dishes and soups, because it has a more complex aroma than lemon and is less acidic.
- “Gyokuro” is Japanese for “noble dewdrop”,and is only served in Japan on special occasions. Even harvesting this tea is an art in itself and is not comparable to normal cultivation: As soon as the first shoots emerge, the SUPREME GYOKURO bush is covered with mats and grown in the shade for the next 21 days. Ultimately, only the most tender leaves find their way into the cup, which is reflected in the exquisite flavour: Fresh, aromatic aromas combine with tangy umami notes.
- In keeping with the name, which combines the Japanese “genmai” for rice and “cha” for tea, the ORIGINAL GENMAICHA is a rice tea. According to legend, this special combination was created when the servant of a samurai accidentally mixed in some grains of rice when roasting green tea. These then popped open. What was created by chance is today a favourite cult tea, with a flavour reminiscent of popcorn.
You don’t have to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun to enjoy Japan’s tea culture thanks to Avoury. Avoury's Japanese tea specialities take you right there at a button press - Green tea brewed to perfection.