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  1. The Changing Japanese Diet
  2. What Dairy Products Do Japanese Eat?
  3. Soy in Japanese Food
  4. ‘O-cha’: Tea in Japan
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‘O-cha’: Tea in Japan
Tea has long been one of the most popular beverages in Japan. The first record of tea in Japan begins with Emperor Saga enjoying a cup in 815 BCE. In the 12th century, Buddhist monks studying Zen in China brought tea back to Japan as a meditation aid and tea entered popular culture. By the 15th century, powered green tea, called ma-cha, was a favorite of the rich. Tea master Sen Rikyou took ma-cha and developed a ritual tea ceremony still practiced today, called Cha-no-yu, or ‘the way of tea’. In the 16th century, loose-leafed tea, called sen-cha, came into fashion and also remains popular to this day. In addition to sen-cha, coarser and cheaper grades of green tea called gyokuro and ban-cha are used for daily beverages. In recent years, vending machines with PET bottles that contain many varieties of tea have become popular because of convenience. The top three producers of tea in Japan are Shizuoka, Kagoshima, and Mie prefectures. There are four harvest seasons for tea, with the ‘first flush’ from mid-April to mid-May producing the highest quality and most expensive grade of tea. The ‘first flush’ accounts for 60-80% of a tea farmer’s yearly income.
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