Taiwan Tea Culture vs Japan Tea Culture

Taiwan Tea Culture vs Japan Tea Culture

Taiwan Tea Culture vs Japan Tea Culture

Why ZenGolden Fasting Tea Beats Green Tea for Intermittent Fasting Part 3: Taiwan’s Tasty Oolong Tea Culture and Japan’s Mindful Green Tea Culture

Mindful Tea with a Zen Monk

One of the things I always do when I go to Kyoto, the ancient former capital of Japan, is to visit my friend Zen master Maeda at his historic Daitokuji Temple. An expert in Japanese tea ceremony, Maeda would invite me to the temple’s austere minimalist tea room. He would then brew matcha green tea for me in the highly ritualistic and well choreograph style of Omotesenke tea ceremony school.

We would always begin the ceremony, known as Wabicha, with light conversation to build rapport. I would watch Maeda-San politely bow, carefully clean our bowls and brew our tea with relaxed precision. Then somehow, just at the right second, we would just stop talking and enjoy being in the moment. Time seems to slow down as we fully engage all our senses to the totality of the experience. As Maeda serves the very bitter ceremony grade green matcha tea, I would eat a sweet piece of candy to make the tea more palatable.   


Maeda San and tea room at Daetoku-ji


Maeda San making matcha green tea


Bitter ceremony grade matcha tea and candy


The traditional Japanese tea ceremony is a ritualistic practice that encourages mindful contemplation and reflection. Symbolically, the bitterness of matcha tea represents the challenges and obstacles of life. In Japan, tea culture is less about the flavor of the tea and more about cultivating mindfulness. While I appreciate participating in a tea ceremony with a Zen master like Maeda, as a tea enthusiast, I sometimes crave a more flavorful oolong like Formosa oolong. However, because Japan is located too far north for ideal tea growing, the variety of Japanese-grown tea is smaller and less tasty than those available in Taiwan.

In contrast to the mindfulness focus of Japanese tea culture, Taiwanese tea culture is all about pleasing the senses. Like fine wine, fine oolong tea also has distinct looks, aroma and taste. Tea connoisseurs in Taiwan would often spend thousands of U.S. dollars for a small tea pot that can bring out the full flavor of their beloved Formosa oolong tea. After brewing in small tea pots for concentrated aroma and flavor, the tea is then poured into small sniffing cups for aroma first then transferred to miniature drinking cups for optimum flavor.

Social tea gatherings in Taiwan can also be far more elegant and extravagant than the austere minimalist style of Japanese Wabicha. Here is a photo from a high-end tea party in Taipei.


Autumn tea tasting party in Taipei

The bottom line: Japanese tea culture is about cultivating mindfulness and Taiwanese tea culture is about enjoying fine tea. While I enjoy both mindfulness cultivation and fine tea, taste is an important reason why I prefer ZenGolden Tea over Japanese green tea. If you prefer your tea for intermittent fasting smooth and creamy instead of bitter and grassy, join our ZenGolden Tea Club now and get 50% off! 

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