Japanese Language Blog

Japanese Food: Ocha (おちゃ) Posted by on Nov 13, 2008 in Uncategorized

Ocha (おちゃ) is the Japanese word for tea.  Japanese tea is important to the Japanese culture.  It serves many important functions.  Sometimes ocha (おちゃ) is served for the purpose of relaxation, sometimes for ceremony, and at other times it can serve as a source of treatment for one’s health.

There are many different kinds of tea consumed in Japan.  The most popular is called Sencha (せんちゃ).  Sen () means roasted while cha () means tea.  Like the name says, the leaves of this tea are roasted in the fire and left to dry in the open.  It is worth mentioning that it is not customary for Japanese people to put sugar in their teas like the British are known to do.  As a result, some Westerners may find Sencha (せんちゃ) to be a bit bitter tasting.  However Sencha (せんちゃ) is very good for your health.  I actually drink it quite often myself.  It’s useful for regulating body temperature; especially if you have a predispostion for abnormal sweating.  (Which is good because less sweating = less body odor.)

The next most well-known tea is Genmaicha (げんまいちゃ).  Gen () means dark, while mai () means rice.  Genmaicha (げんまいちゃ) is a mixture of brown rice and green tea.  A lot of people mistake this tea as having popcorn as one of its main ingredients.  What they don’t realize is that some kernels of rice actually pop and open up like a flower, creating an appearance like that of an individually popped corn.  Genmaicha (げんまいちゃ) is great because you can actually make it at home instead of buying it at the store.

For those of you on a budget, here’s what I suggest you do: 1) First toast a tablespoon of brown rice on a stovetop burner until it turns a nice dark brown color.  Remember I said brown, not black.  If it turns black, you probably burnt it!  2) Then cool off the rice and when it’s cooled, mix it with a teaspoon of green tea leaves in a strainer.  3) Boil about a cup of water and pour the water over the rice and leaves.  4) Put a lid over the rice and leaves for about a minute, or until you see a yellowish color to the liquid.  This is the last step.  Now all you have to do is drink it!  Oh and don’t forget, make sure you use brown rice.  White rice will not give you a rich, nutty flavor like brown rice.  If you don’t like it so nutty flavored, try adding more water.

The tea that I’m going to introduce right now is one of my favorites.  This tea is called Hoojicha (ほうじちゃ).  This tea will give off a dark red or light black or brown color.  It’s different from other teas in that it’s baked over charcoal rather than roasted.  Also, Hoojicha (ほうじちゃ) is made from twigs rather than the actual tea leaves.  Therefore, it has less of a stronger taste than Sencha (せんちゃ) or Genmaicha (げんまいちゃ).   I especially like this tea because it has no caffeine.  I wish I had some Hoojicha (ほうじちゃ) right now.  That way I wouldn’t be figeting and up at odd hours of the night and writing this blog at the same time!

Now there are many more teas that I have not mentioned in this post.  Go out and try some, because you never know unless you try.  You might not like some of them, but who knows, you might find one you really like and become a tea addict!  Unlike coffee, tea has some restorative effects on your immune system, so it might not be too bad if you were to become a tea junky!  Furthermore it’s legal too!

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