Update from Takada San on Japanese Tea and Radiation

Roy’s friend the Japanese tea farmer Takada san responded to questions about the safety of Japanese tea as well as the 2011 harvest. Due to widespread interest in the situation in Japan, Roy is sharing Takada san’s comments.
The biggest Japanese tea area is Shizuoka. The distance from Fukushima to my sencha mountain in west Shizuoka is 500 km. The oldest tea area is around Kyoto. The distance from Fukushima to Tokyo is 300 km and from Tokyo to Kyoto is another 500 km, so my town’s Uji tea is a total of 800 km from the nuclear plants. Another tea area, Kagoshima, is 1600 km from Fukushima. My tea is almost 70 percent Uji, 10 percent Shizuoka, and 20 percent Kagoshima, so I can supply safe tea. Picking in the south area, Kagoshima, starts next week. The middle area, Shizuoka, starts at the end of April, and our Uji area starts at the beginning of May. As for matcha, it’s better to save it until after the summer. It is necessary to keep it several months to give it time to ferment.

The gyokuro I sent you last year is from the famous Ioka garden area. The gyokuro this year looks very good, but you have to book it before picking because the quantity is very small. Last year’s gyokuro was also high quality, with a balanced taste. When you say kukicha, we have two types: from gyokuro leaves or from sencha leaves. Gyokuro kukicha is very sweet, while sencha kukicha is fruity and a bit sour.

Roy told Takada san:
I hope to help spread the word about the highest quality Japanese tea to Americans. Currently, there are people who charge a tremendous amount of money for not-so-great quality tea. I believe this kind of thing gives a bad name to the product. When I return from China and the new harvest arrives in the U.S., I plan to start a series of tea tasting classes to benefit disaster relief in Japan. I would also like to prebook a few kilos of the best gyokuro and other teas, as you suggested. A lot of my customers continue to ask about how the radiation is or is not affecting tea in Japan.