There is a tea brand known as おいお茶{ちゃ} sold near me. One question I had was that on the bottle, it says that it means "Tea, please!" I figured that would be a rather rude way to ask for tea. Is there a nuance I am not aware of with the phrase おい?

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    it is gruff sounding, isn't it. ^_^ I think of おい as "Hey!" – ericfromabeno Aug 4 '18 at 14:33
  • youtube.com/watch?v=Gkti3ud_aa4 :P – ericfromabeno Aug 4 '18 at 14:38
  • seems like basically you might be asking about the origin of the name or the reason for that word choice, or if there's a special case use of おい.... Dunno, sorry. :( I do note that it is alliterative. – ericfromabeno Aug 4 '18 at 14:41

The phrase can be interpreted in more than one ways: "Tea, please!", or "Hey! (Tea)", although in the latter sense, what Tea does is still vague. Without context, one would infer the former. However, if you've seen the recent CMs yelling the phrase, you will interpret it in the latter sense.

I saw more than once the interpretation of 「お~いお茶」 becoming a discussion topic in the Japanese Internet. One of them is referred to in Netolab.

The official explanation from Itoen is quoted there:

1970年代に、新国劇の島田正吾さんが「お~いお茶」と 呼びかけるCMをテレビで放映しました。


家族などに呼びかけているような親しみが込められ、 今でも皆様にご愛顧いただいております。

So in the 1970s the brand name came from earlier commercial messages, where an actor said 「お~いお茶」 and the phrase basically addressed families or something similar. (And at that time, the brand name was 「缶入り煎茶」, a mere explanation of the product)

I couldn't find the exact film at that time, but another page in the Itoen website contains an image captured from the CM.

Inferring from the information, I suppose that, at the time, the phrase exactly meant "Tea, please". However, possibly for political correctness reasons, the nuance was seemingly changed in the recent CMs so that "おーい" is just a yell at the sky (mostly, by an actress) and "お茶" sounds just a meaningless addition.


It isn't おいお茶 but お~いお茶. お~い is used when people call someone with friendliness who is away from them. It is close to "Hello", "Hey".

The company that produce them says that they named it お~いお茶 because friendliness can be felt in the name like people call their family.

Source: https://www.itoen.co.jp/customer/teach/006/

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