I think the first time I queried the thirst quenching properties of tea I was treated with some scepticism. I mentioned the words “anti-diuretic” and was told that maybe I should study less geography, start drinking some more delicious tea and shut up.
Tea was a big surprise to me. England, as everyone knows started cultivating wild tea some time during the bronze age and the domesticated tea has been growing on the dales of Yorkshire from time immemorial. Therefore a change in tea is going to affect a British person. I tried green tea at home and was quite taken with it, it had a clean taste and popular magazines constantly told me that it would make me live longer, healthier and ensure I enjoy my life more. Who am I to argue with popular media?
Unfortunately my British-Green tea was obviously altered to suit the national pallet, as Japanese Green tea is somewhat different and it is not the tea of choice for the Japanese. I assume this is in much the same way British people don’t all drink Earl Grey they’re far more likely to be found using PG-tips.
My first encounter with tea was in Tokyo I was experiencing some minor techno-joy at the amount of buttons on one of the vending machines. I pressed a button under a promising looking bottle – hoping to try something exciting and new. I cannot deny that I did indeed get something new - it tasted like sawdust and burning. Like water from a muddy puddle in small forest where all the inhabitants died of botulism. I carried the bottle for a long time but never drank any more from it.
Then, at the school I was going to teach at, the first thing that happened was me to be given a type of Japanese tea. It’s not very nice but one gets use to it. Then later I tried Japanese Green Tea which is violently green, thick and frothy. It also tastes like a mouthful of freshly cut grass. On the plus side it’s very highly caffeinated.
The third and final tea is oolong tea, a Chinese tea. I can drink this but it’s not a task I face with relish. This tea is drunk cold all the time to quench thirst. Drinking water is looked upon with suspicion generally. Instead they gulp this tea down all the time and, I think, along with a generally good diet, this is why the Japanese tend to live longer. Well I don’t think its the blistering sunlight, continual labour, whiskey and cigarettes anyway.