I’ve been drinking tea for who knows how long, but since 2016, I’ve actively begun cataloging (on Instagram) my drinking experiences from a consumer perspective, focusing on packaged teas such as bottles and tea bags. I started this journey in Japan I was intrigued by the variety of packaging and teas available at convenience stores. What started out as a fun daily experiment eventually turned into an obsession to the point where I’ve collected over 600 kinds. As I’m based in Japan, this is where the vast majority of my sample originates from, however through travels and specialty import stores, I’ve encountered teas from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.
In Japan, where my journey began, the locals are surrounded by tea. Available from convenience stores, supermarkets, specialty shops, bento shops, vending machines and even random night stalls, tea is deeply engrained into Japanese lifestyle. One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about Japan is seasonality. Although green tea is consumed throughout the year, in addition to the usual peak tea season (around May), there are period often aligned with seasons where certain types of tea are more readily available then others. In colder seasons, the smoky aromatic roasted green tea (Houjicha) make its appearance and in the blistering Summer, the cooling barley tea (Mugicha) are pushed through commercials and fill refrigerators.
Going back to packaged tea, another interesting pattern I’ve found is in the colour of the packaging. For example, green for green tea, red colours for black tea (in Asian languages the typical English Black Tea is literally translated as ‘Red Tea’), Blues for milk tea and so on. I’m not sure when this pattern began but its amazing how common it is, even across brands and manufacturers — funnily this realisation has made it much easier for me to spot a tea I want to drink.
Contrast to my daily drinking habits, the frequency of these posts will be more sparse, as I’d like to use this area as an opportunity to catalog in more detail my discoveries and encounters with tea. I hope you enjoyed this short post and I look forward to sharing more with you.