Sunday, December 20, 2009

They drink green tea like water

In Japan, not only is green tea everywhere, it is also readily available for free if you know where to look for it.

By Karn G. Bulsuk

Green tea: Free

In Japan, you can buy green tea in every single form for an affordable price, which isn’t surprising since the country consumes the most green tea in the world.

There are many grades of green tea – stuff you buy in bottles for 100-150 yen (1.10-1.60 USD), packaged green tea leafs sold in supermarket or the finest green tea, which can only be bought in specialized stores and can fetch prices as high as the most discriminating wines.

This particular type of tea is always served complimentary in all restaurants and cafeterias.

The one pictured above in Osaka University dispenses Hōjicha (ほうじ茶), a light type of green tea. There are several machines dispensing a variety of green teas as well, giving you a surprising number of options. You can also choose from hot and cold tea, making the dispenser useful year round in a country which dips below freezing point during the winter, but can hit temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius in the summer.

During the summer, cafeterias without automatic dispensers will normally use a large thermos dispenser which contains a massive volume of tea. They will switch tea types depending on the season. In the winter, they will normally serve hot Hōjicha or ban cha, cheap common teas. In the summer, they are known to serve mugi cha, which is a type of roasted barley tea and is considered to be a nice, cold refreshing drink drunk in the summer heat.


  1. Green tea is the new water in Japan!

    In fact, I'm a big fan of Korea because of free water, from water fountains in airports and water machines in shops to water springs in mountains; water is readily available, everywhere. This stands in contrast to water in Hong Kong, which comes in plastic bottles at an explicit price. Then again, that price is lower than the price of water in vending machines no matter the location!

  2. Oh yeah, Karn, you now have administrator rights for this site so you can add Google analytics if you'd like. Let me know if you'll need anything else!

  3. Hi Mr. Woo

    Hm? Oh, that's nice :p I was just curious as to the number of hits on the site. I suspect it'll only be us though, but it's still nice to have people reading our stuff ^^ I'll add you guys to the analytics as well, once I figure it all out -_-

    Your comment about water is interesting. It's a mess here in Thailand - bottled water is sold EVERYWHERE include in restaurants. There is rarely free water except in speciality shops such as in real Japanese food places, original Italian places and other restaurants which aren't locally operated. It's such a waste of plastic and the tap water is just as good. Well...after being boiled and filtered that is :p

  4. Hi Mr. Woo

    I've installed the analytics tracking - I can add you and the other editors as users as well, but I will need a google account to do so. If you'd like access, maybe you could pass on your gmail address to Wynnie? Don't want to be posting email addresses here.


  5. Hey Karn,
    No need to add me to analytics; I'm all good; thank you^^

    I didn't know that water in Thailand is safe to drink. I don't think I was able to use the tap water to shower, even, while I was in Bangkok while I was only unable to drink tap water in Chiang Mai.

    I found the Singha water tasted strange; the oxygenated water in that weird bottle had a favorable taste, however.

  6. Water here technically is safe to drink but people are often not comfortable with it. I do drink tap water occassionally when I can't boil enough on time and it's fine, especially since they recently replaced all of Bangkok's pipes with new, clean plastic ones.

    Actually, I should write something about water sometimes, and do a comparison of the price of bottles vs tap, and just see how much we're wasting because it *is* expensive...

  7. Wow, replacing a city's water pipes, that must have been a ridiculously huge infrastructure project -- and that is why the water wasn't safe to drink?