Traditional Culture of Japan - Traditional crafts and culture

Drinking tea on one’s own: something to be recommended


Drinking tea on one’s own: something to be recommended

In Japan, tea is typically thought of as something that a group of people come together to drink. For example, when a tea-ceremony party is held, several people take part. It’s not a party if there is only one person there.


However, there is also the notion of preparing tea for oneself and drinking it. This is called dokufuku.


Beyond simply serving tea to a guest, it’s essential to know what it tastes like. It would be unacceptable to serve something to a guest if you didn’t know what it tasted like.


With many practices such as tea ceremony and Zen meditation, it could be said that in Japanese culture, there are many opportunities to come face to face with oneself. The first thing to do is to make tea for yourself and look into your own being. It’s important to keep in mind that your purpose is to drink delicious tea.


  Tasting matcha
To many people, preparing and drinking matcha (powdered green tea), rather than one of the various other kinds of tea, is not an everyday sort of activity. This may well be because matcha is associated with tea ceremony, kimonos, and the preparation of the tea in accordance with certain rules of etiquette.


However, when drinking tea on one’s own, there is no need to wear special garments and follow all the procedures of the tea ceremony. It can be an occasion for simply drinking delicious tea. All you need is a tea cup, hot water, and a bamboo whisk to mix the matcha with the hot water.




Of course, the hot water used for this purpose can be boiled water from a thermos, so it will not take more than five minutes to drink tea made from matcha powder, including preparation time.


These days, Japanese people drink coffee and tea to change their mood or to dispel drowsiness. Matcha can be used in the same way. It can be prepared more quickly than coffee, so there is no reason not to use it.


  Tasting green tea
Matcha is used in the tea ceremony, but there aren’t very many people who drink matcha in any other context. However, even among Japanese people who are not familiar with matcha, there are many who drink green tea (sencha).


Matcha is almost always used in the form of a powder, and a whisk (“chasen” in Japanese) is needed to mix the powder with the hot water. Green tea, on the other hand, comes in the form of tea leaves, like black tea. Black tea and green tea are brewed in more or less the same way, so people who drink black tea regularly often drink quite a lot of green tea as well.


Coffee and black tea are consumed for pleasure on an everyday basis. They are seen as a means of switching one’s frame of mind. Matcha and green tea, which have a long history in Japan, are effective for the same purpose of switching one’s frame of mind.


In our modern society, punctuating our daily lives with tea breaks is an important ritual. When your mind is a bit fuzzy, you can’t get things done efficiently. So you take a break for 5-10 minutes to clear your mind. A cup of tea is ideal for this purpose.


Just because there is a cultural tradition associated with the tea ceremony, one should not feel any hesitation in regard to drinking Japanese types of tea such as matcha and green tea. There’s no need to wear traditional Japanese garments, nor any need to pay attention to details of tea ceremony etiquette. What’s important is simply to drink delicious tea on your own.

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