Japanese matcha (stock image)

Japanese matcha (stock image)

If you know anything about the tea that’s produced in Japan, then you probably know that it’s primarily of the green variety. The varieties of green tea grown there run the gamut from so-so to some of the finest green teas you’re likely to get your hands on. One type of Japanese green tea that has been gaining in popularity lately is matcha, a powdered green tea that was once used primarily in the Japanese tea ceremony.

A matcha-related headline caught my attention recently, one that posed the odd question Is Matcha the New Green Tea? Well, obviously the answer is yes, I guess, since matcha is a green tea. But I gather that the question being posed here is whether matcha is going to be the next big thing in tea, the way “ordinary” green tea was for so long – and arguably still is.

But about those Japanese tea wars. No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal weighed in on this issue recently. While we tea drinkers primarily regard Japan as the land of green tea, as the article points out, the Japanese have developed quite a fondness for coffee, which is apparently a habit they’ve picked up from us good people here in the West (not me, though).

Stats from a few years ago indicate that the Japanese are actually ranked higher among the world’s tea drinkers (31st) than they are on the list of coffee drinkers (39th). However, coffee drinking there still outstrips tea drinking by about a little more than a three to one margin, with the tea drinkers putting away just over two pounds per person per year on the average.

But that’s all set to change and by 2020, according to a recent research project, tea drinking in Japan will again beat out coffee. Interestingly, the Japanese are quite fond of coffee in the packaged form and drink a great deal of it from cans or bottles. When the pendulum swings back to tea again, as the article notes, the tea they will be drinking so much of is expected to be “their home-bred, traditional green-tea, albeit in the bottled, ready-to-drink form.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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