Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Japanese Beverages

The beverages most commonly served with a Japanese meal are green tea, beer and sake. Your local Asian grocer may also carry a variety of Japanese sodas and sports drinks.

Green tea, called o-cha in Japanese, comes in both loose tea leaves, and teabags, both regular and decaffeinated. Everyday o-cha is quite different from the powdered matcha used for the tea ceremony. Oolong-cha is another Japanese favorite, especially in the summertime, and barley tea called mugicha is a popular wintertime treat.

Brands of Japanese beer include Sapporo (my favorite), Asahi, Kirin, and Suntory.

There are dozens of brands of Japanese sake, which may be served either hot or cold. The unfiltered white sake is traditionally served cold in little wooden boxes. And the traditional hot sake is served warmed in ceramic flasks, with tiny, thimble-sized cups for sipping.

Tea may be served throughout the meal, beer is especially refreshing with snacks and salty dishes, and sake is the proper beverage to serve with sashimi.