Japanese Tea Report – March 2024

As the new tea season is nearing Uji City has presented a letter of appreciation to tea pickers of Uji tea. In Uji the traditional hand-picking is still being practiced today, and 40 tea pickers that received the letter have been engaged in it for more than 30 years.

In March a Kyoto Tea Professional Competition was also held in Uji City. Around 120 tea professionals from all over the prefecture participated in the competition, where they had to identify the regions, harvesting seasons and cultivars of the tea leaves. Top 10 will participate at the national tea competition in September.

In Gifu a collaboration agreement was signed by Higashi Shirakawa Village, local Tea Industry Promotion Association and Nagoya Gakugei University to promote the local tea industry. University students have already participated in the tea picking activities last year, and the collaboration is expected to grow even more from here on.

This month the bottled tea industry has seen many updates as well. After many years of no change in 2022 Asahi released a new bottled drink So, made with slightly oxidized green tea. As its sales have been going well, other companies felt the urge to make some changes too. Coca Cola announced that it has updated the recipe for its bottled tea Ayataka and has increased the size from 525ml to 650ml. Suntory, on the other hand, announced that it will use 1.5 times more tea leaves for making its bottled tea Iyemon and will release a new commercial along it.

In addition to that Suntory, has also noted an increase in the sales of JJ – its shochu split with jasmine tea. While first released in 2004, sales have started growing more in the last few years and in 2023 doubled what it was the previous year. In Mie, a new tea beer was released using sencha from Ishiguri region. Ishiguri is a tea area located at the foot of Suzuka Mountains.

Fukujuen has released MetaCHA – the tea ceremony experience that can be enjoyed in virtual reality. The experience takes place at a virtually recreated Fukujuen Yugaku Park in Kizugawa City. The scenery can also be changed to Mount Fuji summit. It took two years to develop, and the creators hope that in future virtual tea ceremonies can be enjoyed in any country.

Talking about the real tea ceremonies, Saidaiji in Nara has returned to hosting large bowl tea ceremonies three times a year. The bowls can be so heavy that other people may need to help hold it when drinking matcha. On 13th and 14th April it will be held every hour with a capacity of 80 people each time.

The Hikone Castle Museum in Shiga also has a special exhibition of tea utensils by Naosuke Ii (1794-1850) – 12th head of the Hikone Domain. Known as a Collector Daimyou, he has gathered a large collection of musical instruments and tea utensils, 40 of which are being displayed at the exhibition. At Nagoya Castle Museum in Saga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s tearoom Soan has opened to the public. It is made out of bamboo and has a simple structure.

The article is bases on Japanese media articles:



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