Tea buds have started to grow – it is not too long until we can taste the new tea. In fact, a tea company in Kyoto – Fukujuen, already held the first tea picking event on 18th March. However, the event was organized on a tea farm inside a vinyl house, and for the tea grown outdoors we still need to wait a bit more.
In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, recently released the data of last year and it seems there was an increase in the total production of Japanese tea: 78,100t in 2021 compared with 69,800t in 2020. Shizuoka also more clearly defended its position as No.1. The production of Shizuoka tea in 2021 was 29,700t compared with 26,500t of Kagoshima tea.
Mie, remaining in the third place, has been looking for new ways to stand out and promote its tea. In hopes to attract young people to its local tea brand Isecha, Mie has released tea packages with the pokemon Mijumaru. On the other hand, a new law on the promotion of plastic resource recycling, has pressed bottled tea makers to reduce plastic waste. Already since last year many companies have started selling labelless bottled tea and Kirin seems to be the most recent one to join this trend.
Talking about the health properties of tea, on 22nd March Kyoto prefecture held an academic seminar for “discovering the new attraction of matcha” largely focused on health properties. About 230 participants joined at the seminar venue and online. Based on the presentation by 4 professors and lecturers in 3 Kyoto University, it seems new animal and human studies are underway regarding matcha components with antiaging functions, and early results seem to be promising.
On a cultural side, the golden tea room by Toyotomi Hideyoshi was just restored at the castle museum in Karatsu city, Saga Prefecture. The tea room was made with 16,500 pieces of gold leafs and since 27th March it has opened to visitors, who would like to enjoy the tea inside.
In terms of new products and services, Maiko Tea in Kyotanabe city, Kyoto prefecture has recently started a new subscription service. For 1500yen/month subscribers can bring their own bottles and receive 500ml of brewed tea (Sencha, Gyokuro, etc.) per day.
Among the new products, several new tea-flavored sweets have been released as well. One of them is matcha daifuku, that has been made with matcha from Miyazaki and that will be dedicated to the Miyzaki shrine in April. Another example is a tea flavored canelé that is produced in collaboration between an Osaka tea seller and a confectionery in Tokyo. Canelé is available in a few different flavors including matcha and wakocha.
Thoughts about sweets may make us thirsty. That is perhaps a good moment to make a cup of tea, while we are waiting for the new harvest of this year.
The article is based on the Japanese media articles:
- Shizuoka Prefecture Defends Japan’s No. 1 Raw Tea Production, Shizuoka Shimbun, 2022.02.19
- Tea subscription “Mai Bottle Service” to start in March “more economical than plastic bottles”, Kyoto Shimbun, 2022.03.02
- Rich, thick tea-scented canele: Long-established Japanese tea shop in Hirakata collaborates with Tokyo specialty store, Mainichi Shimbun, 2022.03.17
- Pokemon also plays a role in promoting the appeal of Ise tea, which is not limited to Shizuoka and Kagoshima, Asahi Shimbun 2022.03.20
- First picking by hand of “spring” new tea, while wearing traditional outfit and a mask, Kyoto Shimbun 2022.03.23
- Beverage companies are preparing for the enforcement of the “Afternoon Tea” label-less law, Mainichi Shimbun 2022.03.24
- Hideyoshi’s “Golden Tea House” restored at the Castle Museum in Saga, Asahi Shimbun 2022.03.24
- Would you like to try “Kamimusama no ousouwake”? New Japanese Sweets from Miyazaki, Asahi Shimbun 2022.03.27
- Uji tea’s Undiscovered Health-Promoting Effects: High Functionality Announced by Researchers, Mainichi Shimbun 2022.03.28