Japanese Tea Report – March 2023

The days are getting warmer and the spring harvest is not far away. On 13th March a tea picking event was already held by Fukujuen at a temperature-controlled greenhouse tea field in Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture. About 100 people were invited to participate in the event and female staff of Fukujuen wore the traditional tea pickers outfits.

The Kyoto Tea Research Institute in  also announced that the tea bushes started budding on 28th March. The average temperature in March has been about 2.1 degrees higher than usual and tea bushes started sprouting about 7 days earlier than normal. The announcement day was the earliest since 1973.

The Tea Research Institute in Iruma City, Saitama Prefecture, will start using high speed wireless internet to communicate the tea farm data to tea farmers via Line. The institute has installed sensors and cameras on its own tea field and a few other tea fields around the city. To assist with the decreasing tea farmer population and to reduce tea farmer labor needed for checking tea farm conditions, the institute will communicate necessary data to the tea farmers directly.

Among other interesting news is that Suntory Beverage and Food has appointed its first female CEO – Makino Ono. Among the G7 members, Japan still lags behind in female representation at the upper ranks of corporate management. Currently less than 13% of executives at publicly traded companies are women compared to 29.7% in the USA and 45.3% in France. Taking the leadership position Ono-san sees potential in health-related drinks in the U.S., Asia and regions where Suntory does not have a strong presence yet. And she hopes to see more women in management positions too.

On the cultural side of things, senchado – tea ceremony with loose leaf tea, is quite difficult to find. But at a temple in Kyoto – Kaikouji, where the wife of the chief priest is Ogasawa-ryu senchado master, it is possible to have this unique experience during the temple visit. 

Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL), a research subsidiary of the Sony Group, has started looking into recreating the Japanese tea ceremony – sTea Budsado in a digital space. Until now students had to present in a tea room when learning tea ceremony. The recreation of the tea ceremony in digital space will allow students to experience and learn about sado through the simple use of VR devices.

In Kanagawa Prefecture a new documentary was created about the Ashigara tea, as experienced through the eyes of 3 highschool students. While just looking at the documentary scenes many might confuse the scenery with Shizuoka, Kanagawa Prefecture also makes tea in the Ashigara region. The documentary aims to convey the charm of Ashigara tea.

In Kyoto a new train design has been unveiled to highlight the tea “tea of Kyoto” theme. The train will run between Kyoto and Nara Cities. In Yame City, Fukuoka prefecture, a new bottled tea has been released as well. Bottled drinks are often seen as simple and casual. But not in this case – the premium bottled Gyokuro from Yame City in a wine bottle comes with a price tag of 27,000yen.

Ito En on the other hand has developed a new bottled herbal tea together with a startup from Taiwan. It contains 5 different herbs and is aimed at health conscious consumers. And lastly university students from Nara, have created a new rice topping – furikake using spent leaves of locally produced tea – Yamatocha. The idea behind it was to reduce food waste and the recipe even won the local cooking contest with 156 participants.


The article is based on the Japanese media articles:

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