"Bitter" for Tea and "Bitter" for Beer

George Orwell said “ Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to bitter” in his writing, A Nice Cup of Tea.

I like it, but my interest here is the word “bitter”. 

Unlike English language, Japanese has different words between bitter for beer and the one for tea. I mean “nigai” for beer, and “shibui” for tea. Also we say “nigai” chocolate for bitter chocolate, and "nigai" coffee for bitter coffee. We say “shibui” green tea for bitter green tea.

I know that English language has the word, astringency, for tea. But it is interesting to know  that “bitter” can be covered the taste both of beer and tea. 

Shibui” is astringency like tea while “nigai” is bitterness like beer, coffee, dark chocolate etc. If you are a tea person, it does no harm to know it.


All-Time High Price Tea !!

The first auction sale of the year in Shizuoka was held on April 24th

The price rose to a record high. Can you guess how much one kilogram tea is?? It’s 1,080,000 yen per kilogram!!!!! I know this is a season-opening festive market, but even so it’s ten times more than the best price before, which was 88,000 yen. 

In Japan, people celebrate the one who become 108 years old as “Chaju”, which literally means “tea celebration”. Taking the number 108 as a happy and lucky one, a buyer bid such a high price. What a generous buyer!!

This special hand-rolled tea is made from the cultivar of “Saemidori”. Roughly speaking, it would be more than 1000 yen per teacup. Would you like to try some? It can be a once-in- a lifetime experience^^) 

at the Shizuoka tea market (from Nikkei Online)

from  Nikkei Online


Shincha and Sencha

Did you know that Shincha is a kind of Sencha, but Sencha is not always Shincha??

“Sen” for Sencha means “to decoct” or “ to extract the essence”, and Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan.

“Shin” for Shincha means “new” or “fresh”, so Shincha means new tea, which is spring tea produced by first flush. When we say Shincha, it almost always refers to “spring Sencha”, which means that Sencha produced by first flush. Shincha is especially characterized by a fresh and grassy aroma since they are made from the fresh and young buds and leaves. 

You can buy Sencha in all seasons of the year, but  Shincha is found only in spring. Enjoy!

japanese character "Shincha" by Ippodo