India and Japan both have a love of tea that spans many centuries. The plant, Camellia Sinensis, is popular in both India and Japan and is used to produce most of the tea such as black, green, and white tea. However, there are many kinds of herbal teas that are also consumed in both cultures. This love of various teas is woven into the fabric of the history and culture of India and Japan.
Even though I am Japanese, I personally love India and Indian tea. I had a great opportunity to live in India (Chandigarh) for close to a year altogether, and from the experience, I was introduced to all different kinds of tea in India.
Though I love Indian tea, I had a hard time finding Japanese tea in India. That is where I started importing Japanese tea to India. (You can find Japanese tea in India on our site now.)
This article is through my experience and research for love of both Indian and Japanese tea comparing teas from both countries I love.
We will take a look at the many factors that show why tea is such a popular drink in these countries and how well Japanese tea and Indian tea will fare in a battle against each other.
1 – History: India’s Tea History is Ancient
Tea became known in Japan around the 9th Century. Tea seeds were brought from China and the planting of them was greatly encouraged. (Read my other article 30 Surprising History About Japanese Green Tea You (Probably) Didn’t Know.)
For Indian tea, the first record of tea consumption in India was between 750-500 BCE, in the ancient Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. It’s possible that tea consumption started much earlier than this, however, after the mention of tea in the Ramayana, there are no further records of tea consumption until the first century.
In the sixteenth century, Dutch travelers recorded Indian use of the Assam tea plant as both a food and to brew tea. Later, the arrival of the British East India Company brought large-scale production of tea in Assam, India. By the start of the twentieth century, the top tea producer in the world was Assam.
Indian tea consumption predates that of Japan.
2 – Culture: The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an Exercise in Meditation
The Japanese tea ceremony, called the Way of the Tea, is one of the most elegant and beautiful cultural rituals in the world. The ceremony is a series of choreographed movements that are more about focus and intent than drinking tea. It is said that the one preparing the tea must do so from the heart.
This tea ceremony was first recorded to have begun in the sixteenth century. The teachings of Zen Buddhism saturate this practice which can be seen in the four principles that are central to its spiritual aspects. These principles are harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. (Read my other article – 30 surprising history about Japanese tea you (probably) didn’t know for more about Japanese Tea Ceremony.)
3 – Types: Japanese Tea Comes in Many Varieties
There are well over twenty different types of tea in Japan. With the history of tea in Japan spanning over a thousand years, this isn’t surprising. The Japanese have mastered the art of tea cultivation. Let’s take a look at just a few of the types of tea popular in Japan.
Tea plants grown under shade are used to make this tea. This process allows for the tea leaves to produce more chlorophyll. The additional chlorophyll gives the tea an intense green color. Matcha is the tea commonly used in tea ceremonies.
Sencha is green tea made from tea plants grown in the sun. It is consumed hot or with ice and is the most popular tea in Japan.
Aracha translates to “Wild Tea” in English. Aracha is green tea where the process of green tea keeps the original shape as it is cropped. Most green tea consumed are refined and processed green tea. In Japan, green tea is usually sold from the farmer to wholesaler where the wholesalers process and refine the tea. When green tea is provided to the wholesaler, the form of the green tea is usually Aracha since it has not been processed yet. This type of green tea is usually not distributed to consumers. However, due to being able to enjoy rich and natural taste and flavor, some fans prefer drinking this type.
How about Indian tea types? Just like Japanese tea, Indian tea is full of health benefit. Here are a couple of examples of Indian tea types known for their health benefits.
Assam tea is a black tea that is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can help prevent certain types of cancer. In addition, Assam tea can improve cognitive function, increasing mental alertness.
Nilgiri tea is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. These two elements, respectively, help to maintain blood sugar and improve cardiovascular health.
Chai tea is a combination of black tea and spices. Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, and clove are blended with black tea to produce a drink potent with health benefits. It can help reduce nausea, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation. It is also high in antioxidants so can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular issues.
To be concluded in Japanese Tea vs Indian Tea – 10 Battles You Don’t Want to Miss – Part 2
Photo “morning green tea” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “Kanko” and is being posted unaltered (source)