On 31st January 2024 GJTea has turned 5! We are really grateful to all our members for their encouragement and support.
To celebrate we have held not one but three anniversary events! Being a global organization with members in over 50 countries it is not easy to gather everyone at once. So, we held one in-person event at our new office in Kyoto as well as two online events to accommodate different time zones.
The event in Kyoto was held first and took place on 27th January. We had a lovely group of members and supporters, some of which traveled from as far as Ibaraki and Yokohama. Together we looked at the past, present and future of the Global Japanese Tea Association. Of course, there was plenty of tea, sweets, and later even some sake.
The online events took place on 31st January – the actual date that the GJTea was established 5 years ago. Members joined us from all corners of the world (from USA, Canada, UK, France, Spain to name just a few). After the five-year review we also had a virtual tour of our Kyoto office as well as a lively chat over tea and some sweets.
So what were the past 5 years like? Navigating this time was not easy – with pandemic spanning through more than half of it we had to adjust and change the course multiple times. On the other hand, it has also pushed to try new things, which we may have not done otherwise.
Many online tea programs were born during this time, including our Foundation and Intermediate Course online, that more than 200 students have taken them so far. Later these programs we also offered in-person, as we originally intended, and now they are available in 8 countries around the world.
We also held several unique projects with the support from the Japanese Tea Central Association. One of the largest so far was the Japanese Tea Marathon, that look place along the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and introduced 15 tea producing prefectures over 15 days. Between 200-300 people joined each day and many said it left them a lasting impression.
In 2022 we started the Japanese Tea Evangelist program, that is focused on university students, who are going to study abroad. Through the program they both get to learn more about Japanese tea as well as to introduce it to their new friends abroad. In two years, we have welcomed 57 students, and we hope to welcome even more in the coming years.
Then the newest project was the Japanese Tea Conferences held in Tokyo and Kyoto in 2023. While we organized many activities online, we also felt a need to meet in person. So the conferences serve as a platform to both connect with each other and to spotlight exciting developments with Japanese tea.
With the mission to expand the Japanese tea world through global collaboration we are also looking into the future. We believe it is important to give a chance for people abroad to learn about Japanese tea. Hence are looking to expand the list of tea courses in various countries and various languages. Equally important it is to give a chance for young people in Japan to engage with tea. So we would like to continue growing the Japanese Tea Evangelist program in the coming years. And finally bringing the two worlds – domestic and international – together, we would like to continue building the space for people to meet, connect and develop new ideas together. This includes both the dedicated member space online as well as the annual tea conferences.
You can see, there is still a lot to do. Together let’s create a brighter future for Japanese tea!