Japanese Tea and the Fukushima Disaster

Japanese Tea and the Fukushima Disaster

Firstly, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on what the Japanese people are going through at the moment. Japan is a truly wonderful country with some of the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. It’s devastating to see them having to go through so much upheaval but I’m amazed by their spirit and determination to begin to rebuild. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the earthquake, tsunami and radiation fears.

With all the media coverage over numerous bans of Japanese exports from countries around the world, I thought it would be useful to try to address some safety concerns about Japanese green teas.

As you’ll be aware, there are legitimate health concerns regarding some of the food and water in the area around the source of the radiation (Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant). However this is not the case for all Japanese products, particularly Japanese teas. The vast majority of Japan’s tea is grown hundreds of kilometres south of Fukushima. The fact that the prevailing winds blow east over the ocean is also a positive.

According to the World Health Organisation, Japanese and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are testing foods at the source and preventing the export of products that show any unusually high readings, despite the fact these readings are generally below health damaging thresholds. It’s also crucial to note that the 2011 green tea harvest has not even begun. What has become known as ‘pre quake’ stock, now seems very much in demand.

It’s also worth pointing out that as Japanese tea is generally so good, the Japanese tend to hang on to most of it themselves. In fact, only around 10% of Japanese green tea is exported. We will need to wait and see how this disaster affects the global tea markets. The Japanese are traditionally large importers of tea, particularly Darjeeling (Japan is the third largest market for Darjeeling behind Germany and the UK). With the current harvesting of the much coveted First Flush Darjeelings, it appears that inevitably orders from Japan are way down. This will necessarily affect market prices.

As for eteaket’s teas, the only Japanese teas we currently stock are Gyokuro and Matcha, all of which was imported before the earthquake which caused the Fukushima disaster. We luckily have plenty of these teas in stock (because they were vacuum packed at source), so they should last us at least until the end of this year. If you’d like any more information about Japan Nuclear Concerns, you’ll find it on the World Health Organisation’s website by clicking here.

I do hope this clears up some concerns and we wish everyone in Japan our sincere best wishes in starting to overcome this tragedy.

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