Mugicha (麦茶) is a type of tea made of roasted barley, totally caffeine free, and has been reported to have multiple positive effects on health, such as lowering blood viscosity and preventing tooth cavity. Mugicha has been long enjoyed by Japanese since 8th century. It can be served hot or cold all year round, but in summer especially, iced mugicha is often represented as summer staple.
It’s usually served with no sugar, so is great for diet too!
In stores, mugicha is often sold in large tea bags so you can make enough of it for a pitcher.
Chuhai is an extremely popular type of cocktail in Japan.
You can find them in cans in convenience stores, order them in izakaya, bars, etc.
“Chu” stands for shochu. Shochu is a Japanese distilled spirit that is typically 25% in alcohol contents.
“Hai” is short for “Highball.” It’s a cocktail made of whisky and soda water.
In post-WWII Japan, when economy started to recover, highball was extremely popular among businessmen. However, it was an expensive cocktail, so most people didn’t have a chance to taste it. In order to make it more accessible to working class customers, one of the bar owners in Tokyo came up with a new, cheaper alternative to highball, which was chuhai, consisting of shochu and soda water. Chuhai became widely popular, and people loved drinking it straight, or by mixing with plum, grape flavored syrup, oolong tea, etc.
On the menu of izakaya and bars, usually chuhai is written in combination with its mixer. So “grapefruit hai” would be chuhai mixed with grapefruit juice.
In 1980’s, canned chuhai from Takara became a big hit among young people. Many followed the example of Takara, and today canned chuhai can be seen in any convenience stores in Japan.
However, cheaper canned chuhai products often use vodka for their base. Thus, technically they are not chuhai. For example, Kirin’s Hyoketsu Chuhai uses vodka and mix it with fruits flavored soda.
It’s cheap and easy to drink.
Try it when you are in Japan!
Have you noticed that often times customers in Japanese izakaya (drinking restaurant) order “nama” right after they arrived? Nama (生) is short for nama bīru (生ビール), which means draft beer. It is common (especially among businessmen) to order nama, freshly served from a keg, as their first drink so they can refresh.
However, you’ll also notice that in convenience stores, you see cans of beer with “nama (生)” written on their labels. “How could any canned beer be called draft beer?” You may think.
That’s because in Japan, the definition of draft beer is different from other countries. Draft beer is “any beer that has not gone through pasteurization (treated with heat)” to remove microorganisms. As long as it is unpasteurized, it is qualified to be called nama.
Although sold in cans, this kind of beer usually has shorter shelf life and has fresher taste than pasteurized beer.