I was having a discussion with a Japanese friend and she said that the word 日本茶 ''means'' green tea.

I have put the word ''means'' in brackets for emphasis.

I replied that surely 日本茶 means Japanese tea and 緑茶 means green tea. I don't know a lot about Japanese teas but a quick Google shows that most teas in Japan are green but there are some non-green teas.

So my understanding is this: 日本茶 means Japanese tea but because most teas in Japan are green it implies green tea.

I tried to explain this to her but she was having none of it. 日本茶 absolutely ''means'' green tea.

I didn't want to push the conversation any further so I let it go.

My understanding is this, please tell me if I am wrong.

日本茶 literally means Japanese tea.

緑茶 means green tea.

Most tea in Japan is green so saying 日本茶 to a Japanese person implies green tea.

But 日本茶 does not ''mean'' green tea.

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    Did you check a monolingual Japanese dictionary? – Leebo Oct 29 '19 at 11:29
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    Weblio (result from Daijirin) - weblio.jp/content/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E8%8C%B6 Kotobank (result from Daijisen) - kotobank.jp/word/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E8%8C%B6-592811 – Leebo Oct 29 '19 at 11:39
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    By the way, to my ears it strikes me as someone outside of America being confused by the name "American cheese" and how in America it doesn't refer, in most scenarios, to American-made cheese, but to a specific type of processed cheese. – Leebo Oct 29 '19 at 11:42
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    Minor thing though, 绿茶 should be 緑茶 in Japanese Kanji. Probably she is an expert of Japanese tea.The color of ほうじ茶 looks brown, but it is actually "roasted green tea". I need to agree with her. – kimi Tanaka Oct 29 '19 at 11:43
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    @Kantura It seems like you're talking about the color when it's made and she's talking about the process in which the tea leaves are prepared, which technically is what determines whether a tea is a 緑茶 or 黒茶 and so on. – By137 Oct 29 '19 at 12:41

日本茶 literally means Japanese tea, or tea produced in Japan. 緑茶 means green tea.

Teas produced in Japan are almost exclusively green, but Japan does produce non-green teas.

Note that green tea does not refer to the green color of the beverage but the color of the tea leaves.

According to the website of Itoen, a major Japanese tea company, 緑茶 used to represent the whole of 日本茶, but nowadays 緑茶 is often used interchangeably with 煎茶(sencha).

The Itoen website in question is the following: "緑茶、煎茶の違いは何ですか?" on https://www.itoen.co.jp/customer/faq/detail/tea_leaves_01.php

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    この回答ではほうじ茶の類は "non-green" "green" のどちらの扱いなのでしょうか、あまり自明ではないような気がします。 – naruto Oct 29 '19 at 12:20
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    If you accept Wikipedia as evidence: ほうじ茶とは、日本の緑茶の一種であり、茶葉を焙じて飲用に供するものを指す。 See also: alit.city.iruma.saitama.jp/07tea-museum/01kind.html – By137 Oct 29 '19 at 12:33
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    ほうじ茶 is a variety of green tea that is distinctive from other Japanese green teas. Japan produces non-green varieties such as 発酵茶, mainly in the Shikoku (四国) region. – user48754 Oct 29 '19 at 12:35
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    I myself am aware of the difference between "visually green" and "technically green" here. My point is that OP does not seem to understand that difference. This answer does not explain why some visually brown Japanese teas are technically green. – naruto Oct 29 '19 at 12:39
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    I'm not an expert of tea. But I can explain what a Japanese word means. So, I would like to focus on the semantic stuff in question. How should we improve the post? – user48754 Oct 29 '19 at 12:47

Putting aside that there are other teas in Japan, such as barley tea, 日本茶 is green tea in that it refers to the Japanese tea leaf which traditionally, domestically, is never allowed to oxidize into a different form of tea which is more traditional of other cultures such as oolong or black.

This being said, this then covers "green tea" in all its forms: 煎茶、抹茶、ほうじ茶、玄米茶、etc.

Where 緑茶 can mean, explicitly, "green tea," because of its essential connection to 煎茶, 緑茶 does NOT actually cover other forms of green tea such as 抹茶 or ほうじ茶.

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    When I say traditionally, domestically, I mean to say that teas such as oolong and black exist in Japan now but are not considered "Japanese" tea, instead viewed as an imported cultural good to a degree. – psosuna Oct 31 '19 at 17:18

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