The tea situation in Japan has been difficult for several years and coupled with the pandemic this year may be especially hard for tea farmers in Japan.
Tea farmers focus on cultivating and processing Japanese tea, which most of them sell through the local tea auctions. Over the years the market price for tea has been going down gradually and because of the temporary shop closures during the pandemic, tea buyers are cautious about gaining keeping a lot of stock, that pushes down the price for tea even more. Because of that, this year a number of tea farmers are not producing summer tea and several of them, seeing they cannot make the ends meet, are even considering quitting tea farming altogether.
The Global Japanese Tea Association has started Meet the Tea Farmer events to give the tea farmers international exposure as well as to create a direct connection with the tea professionals and tea lovers around the world in the hopes that it may provide a new avenue for them. For people abroad these events also give a unique chance to meet the tea farmers directly, and get to know who is behind their tea.
On the 29th July we held our very first Meet the Tea Farmer event with Ryo Morisaki, a tea farmer from Wazuka. Ryo-san started tea farming in 2015 and was the first in his family to take this endeavor. With the education in environmental engineering, Ryo-san’s philosophy is sustainable tea farming with attention to environment and surroundings. Hence, he makes his tea naturally, free from chemical substances.
During the event Ryo-san presented two of his teas: naturally grown spring Sencha and spring Hojicha. Participants, spanning across three time zones: Japan, Europe and North America, appreciated Ryo-san’s presentation and his teas so much, that the session went over by nearly half an hour.
The next Meet the Tea Farmer event is planned on 26th August with Jun Watanabe, a fourth generation tea farmer from Shimada, Shizuoka, who will be introducing his Wakoucha and Japanese Oolong. Jun Jun is looking forward to seeing you there!