28 Jun 2007

history of tea

Lately, when I was having a little chat with my English colleague in the office kitchen, she said,

“Japan must have much longer history of tea than England?

I wasn’t sure. But, this is absolutely true.

For Japanese people, tea, especially ‘afternoon tea’, is one of the most important aspects of England and is believed to be a very traditional culture. I had such kind of feeling, too. However, when I looked at Wikipedia about the history of tea, I was so surprised! It was mentioned, that tea has been brought to England in 17th or 18th century, which is not very long ago! On the other hand, Japan is believed to have its tea history since 8th century. I did know that tea is not grown in this country but…

I had already realised that tea is not very common among the English people. More people seem to drink coffee. Furthermore, I haven’t seen an English person having a black tea! They don't seem to enjoy a subtle taste of tea like Japanese people do.

‘Afternoon tea’ must be a wonderful culture, but now it seems it is not worth comparing it with Japanese tea ceremony. Japanese tea is not only a culture but it also influenced the style of architecture very much. It must have had a great influence to the mentality of Japanese people, particularly through tea ceremony.

In the first year of my stay in London, there used to be a lot of amazing rediscovery about Japan, but recently it didn't happen so frequently. So I’m now very happy about the new discovery about tea. This is something we Japanese people can or should be proud of!

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