Japanese Tea Report – June 2023

Over the last few decades loose leaf tea consumption at home has been decreasing. In 2021 it was 251g per person, which is just about half of what it was 30 years ago. The number of certified Uji tea cafes has also decreased for the first time in 15 years (since the start of the certification system). With the current situation in mind, the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, said that it was time for Japanese tea to “leap into the world”, when he was presented with the fresh tea at his residence on 19th June.

One way to attract new attention are the premium bottled teas of Japan, the price of which can range between 10,000yen-300,000yen per bottle. There are already a few companies working in this field and the bottled tea from Shizuoka that was served at the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima is also expected to go on sale at the end of the month.

More and more of the new technologies are entering the tea industry. One of the largest tea companies ItoEn has been using AI technology at its contracted tea farms in Kyushu to determine the best time for harvest and to reduce the burden of the aging tea farmers. A recent study at Chuo University has also shown that the weight and thickness of a glass can have an impact on tea experiences. The study involved 56 university students who tasted tea blind-folded. The result was that tea served in thick and heavy glass gave an impression of sweetness and tea served in a thin and light glass gave an impression of bitterness.

And of course it is important to involve the younger generations into the tea industry. On 7th June ItoEn held a lecture on tea to junior high school students in Tokyo. In Shizuoka, the first female mediator started working at the prefectural tea market. The mediator’s role involves supporting tea producers and wholesalers negotiating the tea price. Okawa-san said “I want to make tea more accessible by setting a price that is close to what consumers feel.”

In Kyoto the tea room that has caused some controversy of overspending was finally opened at the city hall on 20th June. It was developed in conjunction with the Kyoto city hall renovation and in future may host regular events. But sometimes the tea room can be anywhere. Hideki Hasegawa – a global tea master has held tea ceremonies in a tea room on a wagon as well as on a yacht. He has sailed 2300km and has visited 70 ports so far. When tea calls, all you need is hot water.


The article is based on the Japanese media articles:

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