Story Time – Sake History

Sake has a long and textured history, dating back to the 3rd century BC. The drink was originally used as a medicinal tonic by the Japanese but eventually became popular among the general population.


Sake production began to take off in the 16th century, and it soon became an integral part of Japanese culture with many sake brewers taking up the loved recipe. In this blog post, we will explore sake’s rich history and learn about how it developed into the drink we know today!


Sake Origins


Sake is thought to have originated in China, where it was used as a medicinal tonic. The earliest sake production methods were likely similar to those used for making wine. Sake made its way to Japan sometime during the Nara period (710-794), and it quickly became popular among the Japanese aristocracy.


At this time, sake was known as kuchikami-zake, or “mouth-chewing sake”, because the rice was chewed before being fermented. This practice is no longer used today, but it shows how sake has been an important part of Japanese culture for centuries!


sake history


Japanese sake production really took off in the 16th century, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600). At this time, sake breweries began to pop up all over Japan, and the drink became increasingly popular among the general population. It was during this period that sake started to be known by its current name, “nihonshu”.


Sake Production History


Sake is produced by fermenting sake rice that has been polished to remove the bran. The level of polishing is important, as it affects the flavor and quality of the sake. The rice is then washed and soaked in water before being steamed. Once it has been steamed, the rice is cooled and mixed with koji (a type of fungus). This mixture is then allowed to ferment for around two weeks. Finally, water, yeast, and sometimes alcohol are added to the mixture and allowed to ferment for another month or so.


Sake was traditionally made in winter because the cool temperatures were thought to produce a higher-quality product. However, modern sake production methods have made it possible to produce sake year-round.


Sake Industry Today


Sake is still an important part of Japanese culture, and sake breweries can be found all over the country. In recent years, sake has become popular internationally, and many sake breweries are now making sake and exporting their products around the world. The sake industry is worth billions of dollars with multiple premium sake brands and shows no signs of slowing down!


Sake has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a medicinal tonic. Today, it is an important part of Japanese culture and cuisine, and sake consumption is now an activity enjoyed by people all over the world. We hope you have enjoyed learning about sake’s rich history!

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