A frothy bowl of matcha sits on a marble table top covered in cherry blossom petals. A chasen bamboo tea whisk is to the left of the bowl.

Favorite Japanese Tea Words and Phrases

March 04, 2022

Many of you have been enjoying matcha moments with Mizuba for many years. As your appreciation for Japanese tea and tea culture grows, you may have slowly incorporated more vocabulary for sharing your love of Japan's beautiful teas. For example, you might now include the terms chasen and chawan in your everyday chatter. Cool! 

Tea is deeply established in Japan's way of life, and as a result, there are many words and phrases reserved just for tea.
Cha means tea. Here is the kanji (which is also Mizuba's logo!): 茶 
Many words incorporate this kanji. 

Man enjoys organic genmaicha tea
Our friend Calin Matei enjoying Mizuba organic genmaicha

Here are some of our favorite Japanese tea words and phrases: 

• Of course we have to start with Matcha (抹茶):  Mat-cha literally translates to "rubbed tea." The tea is "rubbed" because matcha is only considered "matcha" until after tencha tea leaves have been run through a granite stone mill, called an ishi-usu and turned into the fine powder. 
- Interested in learning about the Chasen or Chashaku? Check out our blog posts about each specific matcha tool at the links above. 

• Chanomi (茶飲み): directly translates as "space for tea." Cha-no-mi refers to the living room, or main room of a house where a family gathers together (over tea, of course!). Also is seen as Chanoma, which can also mean, "every tea moment here and now." We love this idea as the very act of tea prompts you to focus on the here and now and be present with the tea. 

Ochauke (お茶請け) – the sweets, pickles, or snacks served along with tea. 

• Cha-nomi-tomodachi ( 茶飲み友達): directly translates to, "friend that you drink tea with." Think of the person that you'd want to share a matcha moment with everyday, or your closest friend that you'd call first to catch up with. They are your cha-nomi-tomodachi :)

• Nichijou Sahanji (日常茶飯事):  a proverb that refers to things that happen, or refers to how you do things everyday (like drinking tea and eating).

• Asa-cha ha huku wo masu (朝茶は福を増す):  Another Japanese proverb that says morning tea increases good fortune 🍵.

• Chagokoro ( 茶心): tea made with heart, or "heart of tea." We say our producers in Japan encompass the heart of tea. Each producer and farmer we work with strives to uphold traditional Japanese tea heritage, and work hard to ensure such exquisite tea craft lives on in both Japanese culture and the world over. Chagokoro encapsulates the passion people in the tea industry have for preserving teas made with integrity.

• Honcha (本茶): translates to "true tea." In the 1100's, originally only tea from the Kozanji Temple in Toganoo, Kyoto was considered "true" or "authentic" tea (to be discerned from hicha, which was basically just tea from anywhere else). The founding plantation of Honcha garnered such a reputation for its exquisite quality and flavor, and is a formative reason why Uji is considered to be the historic home of matcha. 

• Chatsumi (茶摘み) – translates to tea picking. 

• Chabashira (茶柱): translates to tea stem. Next time you brew loose leaf tea in your kyusu, check to see if you're in luck – this superstition says that if you have a stalk of tea floating upright in your pot, it will bring you good fortune. 

• Chakabuki (茶歌舞伎): a historic tea game! This blind tea tasting game was popularly played as a kind of gambling event in the Kamakura era, 1185 – 1333. Still played to this day, participants blind-taste 5 different teas for 5 rounds and must report exactly what each tea is. There is still a big, competitive Chakabuki event in Uji every year! 
-- You can play a miniature version at home with our Mizuba Matcha Trio. Could you guess which each matcha is, if you were blindfolded? 

Do you have any favorite tea terms we missed? Let us know in the comments! 

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