Sunday, August 27, 2006

Why are my teacups full of water?

Though I live in the best place possible to drink the healtiest tea on the planet (that's green tea for those who have been living in seclusion), I only drink what the Japanese call "black tea". Americans just call it "tea" because that's the simple description we inherited from our former British overlords.

I teach lessons at home and try to do the hospitable thing and serve my students a refreshing beverage during the lesson. More often than not, they do not drink it but I don't take it personally. I've read that Japanese people have small bladders and are reluctant to consume liquids in a situation where they would prefer not to use the toilet. I will note that not one student has ever asked to take advantage of my facilities.

As for why the cups are full of water, I'm sure every British person knows why already. You're supposed to heat the cups before pouring tea into them. I'm not sure why this is the case but I'm guessing that it has something to do with keeping the tea warm for a longer period of time in thin bone china cups.


Roy said...

I find that fact that your students do not ask to use your toilet very amusing. Maybe they are just too embarrassed to ask? Or could it be that the toilet sounds are within earshot of where you are giving lessons?

Way back in the day, I used to teach at a school called Bilingual Eikawa (pink ribbon) and during the 90min lesson there was a break where we had to serve the student(s) a drink and have free conversation. The student(s) never drank what I served them and always thought how wasteful it was.

Shari said...

You make a good point about the flushing noise being in earshot of the lesson. I think some of my students would be too embarrassed to ask but some are pretty earthy types. In fact, now that you mention it, I find it ironic that Japanese people will talk about bowel movements with no embarrassment but won't flush a toilet in earshot.

I also think about how wasteful it is that they don't drink the tea but combat that feeling by offering increasingly smaller quantities of tea by buying smaller cups. ;-)