We are glad to share that our president Simona has won the first place in the Wazuka Chakabuki – tea tasting competition organized by the Tea Industry Youth Association. Simona is the first foreigner and the first woman to receive this award. She will be representing Wazuka town and Kyoto prefecture in the National Tea Professional Competition.
The Tea Industry Youth Association is an organisation uniting young tea professionals (under 45 years old) from various tea producing regions of Japan. It helps to train young tea professionals in tea evaluation skills by organizing Tea Professional Competitions. The Tea Industry Youth Association, however, is a very traditional organisation counting several decades of history. The absolute majority of members are Japanese, who also are predominantly male. Both foreigners and women usually are represented in very small numbers.
The Tea Professional Competition is normally held in three stages: local (city, town), regional (prefecture) and national. It involves testing various skills of tea professionals: being able to recognize different regions, harvesting seasons and cultivars of tea.
The focus of the local competition is the blind tea tasting – chakabuki. It involves tasting 5 teas (usually 2 gyokuros and 3 senchas) from 4 different tea regions (usually Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Kyoto and Fukuoka).
The 5 teas are served one by one and the participants have to identify them correctly judging the colour, aroma and taste of the brew. The exercise is repeated 4 times and the person with the highest score is announced the winner.
The winner as well as another nine participants with the highest score in the local competition get to represent their town in the regional competition. Ten participants with the highest score in the regional competition then compete with the tea professionals from other regions in the national competition.
Because of the pandemic in 2020 the competition was cancelled altogether. In 2021, the local competition was shortened and the winner only got the right to directly participate in the national competition.
We wish all the luck to Simona in the national competition, to be announced later this year.