After several tough years, there may be some positive signs in the tea industry at last. It seems the value of Kagoshima tea export has quadrupled in 4 years, from 340 mln. yen in 2018 to 1,336 bln. yen in 2022. The main area of increase was the export of matcha to the USA.
The largest tea company in Japan – Ito En has seen its share price going up to 4,960yen – the highest in 8 months. This is believed to be the result of the reported growth in net profits over the last few months. Uji city has also been experiencing growth in the number of tourists visiting the city. Many visitors are attracted by the enticing matcha desserts.
Even the areas they may have experienced more hurdles are looking for new ways as well. Tenri area in Nara Prefecture used to produce a lot of tea, but being in the mountains the harvests were later compared to other tea regions and the production declined. This year, however, with the help of the local organic tea farmer – Kenichi Igawa sannen bancha was made from abandoned tea fields.
In Ujitawara City, Kyoto Prefecture there is a new development too – oil from tea seeds. Usually tea seeds are seen as undesirable by the tea producers, but this time they are being put to good use – the making of the moisturizing tea oil.
In Shizuoka city, there is also a new venture to make goat cheese by feeding goats in abandoned tea fields. This year the goats were too young to produce milk, so the cheese is made with milk bought around.The inhouse production of milk and cheese is expected to start next year. In Matsugasaska City of Mie prefecture, pigs are also being fed with roasted tea. The meat is characterized by low odor and rich taste.
The month of September has had several tea events held as well. Most notable was the tea ceremony held at the UN on 13th September by the previous Urasenke Iemoto – Sen Genshitsu Daisho. A war veteran himself, Sen-san has been calling for world peace and the special event was organized ahead of the International Peace Day on 21st September.
The Citizens’ Grand Tea Ceremony will also be held in Nijo castle between 29th October-11th November by 4 tea ceremony schools. The event will be repeated 4 times and each day a different tea ceremony school will be in charge. On 1st October Uji city will also have the annual Ujicha Festival, that is held to celebrate 3 tea founders: Esai, Myoe and Sen no Rikyu. It is the first time to hold it after a 4 year break. For those into Japanese tea pottery. Rakuyaki Museum in Kyoto is also holding a special exhibition until 24th December to celebrate its 45th anniversary.
It is a vibrant time for Japanese tea!
The article is based on the Japanese media articles:
- Ujicha Festival to be revived after 4 years of public participation, Mainichi Shimbun 2023.08.29
- ITO EN, highest price in 8.5 months, expected to see an upward swing due to strong performance, Nikkei Shimbun 2o23.09.04
- Tea offering ceremony to pray for peace at the United Nations, Kyoto Shimbun 2023.09.14
- Kagoshima’s tea exports to the U.S. quadruple in 4 years due to the Japanese food boom, Mainichi Shimbun 2023.09.15
- Mushanokoji Senke, Omotesenke, Yabunaike, and Urasenke schools to hold annual autumn tea ceremony for citizens at Nijo Castle, Kyoto Shimbun 2023.09.20
- Matsusaka pork fed with tea leaves, new brand “Matsusaka T220”, “less odor and richness”, to be sold by the end of the year, Mainichi Shimbun 2023.09.22
- City Survey Reveals Skyrocketing Demand for “Matcha Sweets” in Kyoto and Uji, Japan, Kyoto Shimbun 2023.09.24
- The 45th Anniversary Exhibition of Raku Museum of Art, Kyoto, Mainichi Shimbun 2023.09.25
- Tea Trees on Abandoned Land in Tenri Become Organic Tea to be Sold in the Prefecture from the 29th, Asahi Shimbun 2023.09.25
- Tea farmers’ taboo “tea berries” have been given value by immigrants who developed a beauty oil and made it a tax return item for their hometown, Kyoto Shimbun 2023.09.26
- Tea Leaves Feed Goats; How Does the Milk Taste? Cheese Factory in Abandoned Farmland in Shizuoka, Mainichi Shimbun 20223.09.27