Saturday, September 03, 2011

New Tea has arrived!

Finally! We have received our first tea shipment from Japan since the Tohoku Earthquake last March. Although the road to recovery in Japan is still very long; many sectors, including the tea industry, are making progress. Here are some notes on our current tea line-up.

2011 Harvest Teas: We have our new harvest shipment of 2011 tea from Uji (Kyoto) and various areas of Kyushu (Kagoshima, Fukuoka, Miyazaki) now available. With regards to Shizuoka tea, none of the tea plantations from where our teas are sourced experienced radiation problems after the earthquake and tsunami. However, other teas from Shizuoka Prefecture were found to have higher than allowable (per Japanese government standards, but some still with US FDA guidelines) levels of cesium. Therefore, as a precaution, we have decided not to carry any 2011 tea from Shizuoka Prefecture and northward (i.e. Sayama, Saitama Prefecture) until further testing shows all tea from the prefecture to be within compliance. This may be an overreaction, but we would rather be safe than sorry. But, we have purchased some remaining Shizuoka tea from the 2010 harvest. This includes limited quantities of our Chashi Meijin Fukamushicha, Kawane Genmaicha, Asahina Karigane, and Shizuoka Kukicha and Houjicha. Once this inventory is deleted, it will be replaced with 2011 harvest teas from Kagoshima; including Fukamushicha, Kukicha, and Houjicha. If you prefer the 2011 offerings from Kagoshima, they are available now so please make a note in the comment portion of you order and we can substitute on request.

We have also added a new Organic Sencha offering. This Yutakamidori varietal from Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture is light, with mild sweetness (amami) and low astringency. Since Yakushima is located about 65 km south of Kyushu, some tea farmers there have taken advantage of their relative isolation to encourage organic farming practices. Yakushima is one of the Ousumi Islands of Kagoshima Prefecture and is located about 65 km south of the main island of Kyushu. Much of the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for ancient forests of old growth (as much as 1,000 - 4,000 years old!) sugi (cryptomeria) trees. The island is also home to Rhododendron and Yakushima White Pine, as well as the largest nesting ground in the North Pacific for the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle. We are very pleased to offer our customers this organic tea option from this magical place!

Lastly, I want to thank all of you who have sent support and kind wishes for continued relief efforts in Japan. Countless individuals and industries across the country are working hard to rebuild lives and livelihoods. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery to the tea farmers, potters, colleagues, friends, relatives, and residents of Japan. Many thanks to all of you who are doing the same.