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色とブラウン

日本語の「茶色」は、英語で言うところのブラウンです。なぜグリーンではないのでしょうか。紅茶やほうじ茶を見ればわかりやすいのですが、加熱や発酵を経たお茶はブラウンになります。また茶を使って染めた織物はブラウンになるため、その色が「茶色」と呼ばれたのです。日本で煎茶の製法が工夫され、グリーンの煎茶が完成するのは江戸時代です。実は緑色の透き通ったお茶は、歴史的に見て珍しいものなのです。

The Color of Tea

If Japanese people are asked what color tea is, they say “green” without hesitation. The tea they drink in everyday life is clear green, and the powdered tea served at the tea ceremony is an even brighter green.

While non-fermented tea remains green, fermented or roasted tea turns brown. But why does the Japanese word for “brown” literally mean “tea-color”?

One reason is that cloth dyed with tea becomes brown. Another reason is that the method of making clear green tea was only perfected in the 18th century, and before that the tea drunk outside the tea ceremony was probably brown. For ordinary Japanese, brown was probably the color of tea.

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