Japanese Tea Report – September 2022

The good part of the year has already passed, and we are in the middle of the final harvest this year. But the eyes are already focused on the future. This month The Liberal Democratic Party’s Diet Members Caucus for Tea Industry Promotion compiled a resolution regarding the efforts to promote the tea industry. It appears the focus from here on will be on expanding tea exports by promoting a shift to organic cultivation. 

With Japanese tea becoming more and more popular abroad, nowadays many teas there are sold with Japanese titles, but of questionable origin. To eradicate counterfeits and improve the market value of Japanese products the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has started working on establishing an ISO standard for matcha. It is expected the standard will be set in about 3 years time.

And as more people abroad are enjoying matcha, more are also getting interested in Japanese tea ceremony. Senshin-an has created a Chashitsu ZerO – a portable tearoom made of cardboard and tatami mats. The tearoom weighs just 38kg and can be shipped abroad. But it comes with a solid price tag of 180,000 yen.

In Himeji City, Hyogo prefecture an old folk house was recently converted into a cafe. But not just any cafe. The cafe will serve as a training ground for the highschool and vocational school students to practice their skills in cooking and serving customers. In fact, the renovation of the house was also done in part with the help of students from the institute of technology. Minding the student study schedules the cafe will only run on the weekends and holidays.

To raise the demand for Japanese tea and especially to attract more young people to tea, many regions in Japan are creating various new products and services. A tea shop in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture has started an all-you-can-drink tea subscription service. If you buy a special bottle and pay a monthly fee, you can drink various teas brewed in a kyusu. A restaurant in Shizuoka is starting a similar program too, where if you buy a special bottle, each day you can enjoy two kinds of teas made by Shizuoka tea farmers.

Now to strengthen the local tea brand Tosa tea, JA in Kochi has created a bottled tea, that is made from tea leaves grown entirely in the prefecture. In Okinawa too a new bottled tea was created using 100% of tea leaves from Nago City in Okinawa Prefecture. Koka City in Shiga Prefecture, on the other hand, has decided to focus on hojicha and created a special new product that is currently sold as loose leaf tea.

New products are not limited to just tea beverages. A new tea-flavored sake was created in Fukuoka City. This new product is a fusion of a local sake and hojicha from Yame City. And when tea leaves are spent, they don’t have to be thrown away. JA in Koan City of Aichi Prefecture has developed a new soap using the spent tea leaves. With a bar of soap you are ready for a bath. To celebrate the bath day, on the 26th of every month 57 public bath houses in Kyoto will be offering a hojicha bath with tea leaves from Wazuka Town.

Now some of the long running events seem to have finally returned as well. After a two year break, on the 25th of September a branch of the Tea Ceremony Urasenke Tankokai held a charity tea gathering in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. A pottery festival in Iga City, Shiga Prefecture was also held after a two year break and it seems there were more visitors than expected. A celebration of “World Bamboo Day” also took place in Kyoto and participants could try various musical instruments made of bamboo.

It is great to see that more tea activities are coming back, and life is slowly returning back to normal.

The article is based on the Japanese media articles:

*Image source: Senshin-an


Leave a Reply