Saturday, June 03, 2006

Japanese "sushi shop" term for tea: agari

Just like the American restaurant business has its own jargon ("cow" for milk), the world of sushi has its own terms for things. Green tea is called agari, which is actually a shortened form of agaribana, which means freshly brewed tea. (The -bana part is a variant of hana, or flower.) So, agaribana literally means "fresh flowers."

So, if you really want to impress your local sushi chef, say "Agaribana wo kudasai" (I'll have some tea, please). If he gives you a quizzical look (which happens a lot when a Japanese is addressed in Japanese by a foreigner), just say, "Agari" while making a drinking gesture with your hand. Once he gets your meaning, if you want to kid him even more, say, "Tadashii Nihongo deshou?" (That's correct Japanese, right?).

—Mellow Monk

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