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The Japanese Local Way of Preparing Tea

Although making tea using the classic method of brewing from loose leaves is still the Japanese national drink, it does not fit well with the lifestyle of young Japanese. New products, such as iced coffee and iced tea, which are widely available from vending machines, are gaining in popularity and drawing the younger generation toward a more instant form of consumption. However; several customs remain fashionable. Restaurants serve Bancha, Hojicha and Genmaicha teas in Japanese teapots. For a more upscale tasting experience, Sencha and Gyokuro teas are brewed according to the traditional senchado method.

SENCHADO

The broad meaning of senchado is "Way of Sencha." Senchado is an elaborate ritual method of steeping Japanese teas from leaves. It was created by learned Japanese who wanted to break free from the constraints imposed by the rules of chanoyu. They adapted the Chinese method of infusing tea and created a more relaxed and practical context, which was conducive to philosophical and spiritual discussion. Seeking to align themselves with the spiritual lifestyle of ancient Chinese sages from the Ming dynasty, these intellectuals encouraged the practice of certain Chinese arts, such as calligraphy, painting, poetry and music, during their ritual, which often served as a backdrop for these activities. Over time, the growing popularity of loose-leaf tea led senchado enthusiasts to make the steeping method of Sencha tea less accessible by introducing, among other things, rules inspired by the chanoyu.

Although it is less well known today than the chanoyu, the senchado ritual continues to be practiced.

BOTTLED ICED TEA

Bottled iced teas can be found everywhere in Japan and are a commercial success. Most are based on green tea, but there are some that use wulong or black tea. Although the tea is brewed and packaged in Japan, it is usually produced from leaves grown in China, Taiwan or Vietnam. The plastic bottles in which it is sold are made from PET plastic (polyethylene terephthalate), so it is popularly known as "pet."