I’m finally back today with the next installment of the Insights Into The Japanese Tea Industry series and our featured Japanese tea company this week is The Japanese Green Tea Co. If you’ve been reading my blog for a good while you’ll probably recognize that name from a post I did reviewing 22K Gold Leaf – Issaku Kuradashi Sencha. Having enjoyed my experience with their tea and knowing that they use some unique growing processes, as soon as I started planning this series I had to ask them if they wanted to be a part of it and luckily they said yes.
The Japanese Green Tea Co are the only U.S. distributor of green teas grown from Arahataen Green Tea Farms, meaning that they provide the only tea produced with the Chagusaba method from the Shizuoka region of Japan. All of their tea comes directly from Arahataen Green Tea Farms and undergoes stringent quality controls, to ensure high quality.
- When did your love for Japanese tea begin? Do you remember the first Japanese tea that you ever tried or the tea that inspired you to start your business?
My junior high school in Japan had a tea serving machine on each floor where we could freely pour tea and drink during the class. Now that I think of it, it was such a healthy and sophisticated idea that the school implemented.
That sounds incredible and it’s definitely something I would have liked to have had at my schools here in the UK. You’re totally right that it is a really sophisticated idea and so much healthier than what you would normally find in a school. What a fantastic way to get into tea. – K
2. Why did you start The Japanese Green Tea Co? I would love to know more about the story behind the company and how it began vs where it is now.
I moved to the USA when I was a kid, and I always missed the tea that I used to drink in my school earlier. Since then, whenever I go back to Japan, I always bring back the tea I like. That tea was so popular among my friends, and I was asked to bring a lot every time. The tea farm was Arahataen, where we now bring this tea to the world through our company.
I can imagine that that friends you made in the US were so thankful that you would bring them home such fantastic tea. How fantastic that you were able to start your relationship with the Arahataen tea farm that this point and continue to build in it and provide them with a way for people outside of Japan to try their teas. – K
3. Could you give some good suggestions on how to choose the best Japanese teas. What are the most important things to keep in mind when buying tea?
I believe what you like the most is the best tea. I suggest trying out different tea and stick with what you like. Our tea has lower astringency and bitterness due to growing in sugarcane soil, but some people like bitter tea. So it all depends on what YOU like, in my opinion.
I agree with you completely on this one, tea is so subjective and the best tea will be completely different from person to person. While their are places that will ensure great quality, when it comes to the best tea for each person, it comes down such taste and nobody’s tastebuds are the same. I love the method that is used to create your teas with the sugarcane soil when I tried one of your teas in the past I was instantly able to tell such a difference from the teas I was used to at that point. It’s something I urge every Japanese tea lover out there to try. – K
4. What do you wish more people knew about Japanese teas and the people that work hard to create them?
Our tea farm spends a lot of time, even during winter, keeping the tea in good shape. I wrote a blog post about it here: https://www.japanesegreenteain.com/blogs/green-tea-and-health/the-ancient-chagusaba-method-sustainable-farming-makes-for-uncommonly-sweet-and-healthy-green-tea
The tea you are having is a tremendous effort throughout the year from the tea farmers who care and love with passion.
There really is a lot of work that goes into tea especially throughout the winter time, and I wish more people knew just how much work goes into getting the tea from farm to cup. In learning more about it my passion for tea and respect for the people who work to get the tea from farm to cup grew tenfold, it inspired me to focus more on using my platform to educate people about tea. -K
5. Out of all the teas that you currently sell, which one is your personal favourite and which do you drink the most? Often when I ask people who run tea companies this question their favourite tea they sell and the tea they drink the most are different so I always like to see if each company owner I interview is the same
My personal favorite is hojicha: https://www.japanesegreenteain.com/products/roasted-green-tea-hojicha-loose-leaf
Ironically, we also sell tea and Japanese coffee, but I am very sensitive to caffeine. So this tea is the only one I can drink in the afternoon as it has less caffeine.
Hojicha is amazing and I’m totally not shocked to hear that it’s a personal favourite of yours. It’s definitely in my top 5, I drink so much of it during the later months of the year especially. I can definitely see how it would be a great replacement for coffee for someone with a caffeine sensitivity as it still has that fantastic roasted flavour especially when you can get your hands on a dark roasted one. – K
6. Where do you see the Japanese tea industry heading within the next five years?
I think that more non-conventional tea consumption, such as cooking, is where it is heading. That is why I wrote the book Cook, with Matcha almost four years ago. https://books.apple.com/us/book/cook-with-matcha-and-green-tea/id1465259945
7. What do you think are the hardest challenges that the Japanese tea industry specifically has to deal with? Why do you think that these challenges don’t affect other tea industries around the world are are specific to japanese tea
People don’t drink tea anymore in Japan, sadly. Moreover, with farming being tough (as stated above), very few young people like to go into the farming industry now, which is hard for farmers.
I wrote a whole blog post about this here: https://www.japanesegreenteain.com/blogs/green-tea-and-health/how-a-japanese-tea-farm-is-fighting-against-japan-s-biggest-problem-age
It’s definitely sad that people have stopped drinking as much tea as they used to in Japan and that the young people aren’t wanting to get into the tea business and take over farms from their older family members. I’m hopeful that over the next few years as people learn more about how to market tea to younger people that maybe things like this will change. I also would love to see the export market grow as it helps more than a lot of people would think. -K
8. Since starting your business what would you say is the most important thing that you have learned about tea?
Tea is so deep and limitless fun information to learn. My passion is to share what I learn on my blog, which I hope some people read…. Haha. https://www.japanesegreenteain.com/blogs/green-tea-and-health. At least it has been fun for me to learn and write these.
I completely agree! Tea is so limitless, I find myself learning new things each and every day which only inspires me further to to continue what I do to help others find the same passion and knowledge. I definitely understand the fun behind creating tea based content I love doing it as well. I have always said that even it only helps one person learn about tea I would be happy. -K
9. When it comes to the preparation of Japanese teas, are you embracing the modern methods that have been becoming much more popular recently or do you stick with tradition and recommend others embrace those age old methods as well?
Many tea drinkers and Japanese look down on me when I start talking about doing smoothies with matcha, haha.
As we agreed earlier with so many recipes that use tea these days, I think that to look down on anyone for the methods they use to prepare their matcha would just be silly. I personal love to use a range of different methods swapping and changing depending on health and the amount of time I have. It’s all about what works best for each person and their situation. -K
10. If money was no object what dream product would you love to create for your tea company?
I want to donate more tea and fund to people who need. This is the part I love about what we do:
Wow what an amazing answer to this question! How thoughtful to have overlooked any personal wants for your company and focus on donating tea and funding to those who are in need. More tea companies out there could definitely do with taking a leaf out of your book. -K
Another fantastic Q&A with yet another Japanese tea company that I absolutely love. It was so great to get to know more about this company that I didn’t already know. I love how different each persons answers are to my questions for this series, I always learn new things from each person/company and I’m so thankful to each person that agrees to partake in this series. I look forward to hopefully being able to add to this series throughout 2022 with more Japanese tea companies and maybe some tea farmers.
Until next time. Happy Steeping – Kimberley