• Eugene Tea Festival

    This year’s International Tea Day, Sunday, May 21, will be remembered for tea lovers near Eugene, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Advanced tickets are $10. Day-of tickets are priced on a sliding scale. The event is from 10 am to 4 pm at the Farmers Market Pavilion and Plaza.

    Inspired by other regional festivals — like the Northwest Tea Festival and the Portland Tea Festival — Madelaine Au founded the event to bring the “awe and wonder” of tea to the community. Madelaine chatted with Tea Biz about what it’s like to organize her first tea festival.

    Organizer Madelaine Au on preparations for the inaugural Eugene Tea Festival

    Inaugural Tea Event to Reveal the Awe and Wonder of Tea

    By Jessica Natale Wollard

    Planning a tea festival from scratch is a major undertaking, but thankfully there are great examples worldwide. Madelaine, where did you draw inspiration for your inaugural Eugene Tea Festival?

    Madelaine Au: I was inspired by the Northwest Tea Festival, which I attended for the first time in 2017, and I was really blown away by how much diversity there is in the tea world and just the magic of tea.

    And from there, I started looking for as many tea opportunities as possible; I ended up volunteering for the Portland Tea Festival as the volunteer coordinator, which really cemented my love for tea festivals.

    When I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and realized that there was no festival there, and there was also not as strong of a tea community, I was really motivated to start the tea festival. I had encouragement from local businesses, and that was the start of it all.

    Jessica: The festival will have tea tastings, a marketplace, and educational workshops. Are the vendors and educators attending from around Eugene or beyond?

    Madelaine: We have diverse vendors coming from different locations, the furthest from New York. It is mostly local vendors, and I am wanting to really highlight folks that are in the Eugene area because I think we’ve got a lot of amazing local businesses, but we do have different vendors from Washington, California, and a couple of other places.

    Jessica: It sounds like your circle of tea acquaintances is expanding rapidly. Any tips for our listeners on attracting sponsors and vendors when you’re holding a brand-new event?

    Madelaine: I am lucky that I work in the tea industry, and many of our sponsors are people I’ve worked with in different capacities. Honestly, just reaching out is the best thing you can do: calling, emailing, putting together a pitch. And not being afraid just to put yourself out there.

    Jessica: Can you tell us about the workshops that will take place at the festival? Are they for tea professionals, tea enthusiasts, or both?

    Madelaine: We do have a mix of educational workshops. It really does range from Tea 101, which is really for the public, for people who are not as familiar with tea, to tea bag manufacturing, which is 100% a mostly-for-professionals workshop that we have. But I’m excited, and I hope that the general public also attends those types of workshops to learn a little bit more about the industry because it is fascinating.

    Jessica: How did you select those topics?

    Madelaine: I reached out to different people I have connections with within the tea industry, and I let them select their topics because I wanted them to speak and give workshops from their place of expertise.   I asked some of the vendors to do Tea 101 workshops because I think that’s a really important workshop to have, but we do have diversity.

    Some examples of our workshops are Tea Time for Your Grief; Tea as Art; Tea as Medicine; Tea as Culture; A 5000-year History of Tea; and the Origins of Nepali Teas.

    Jessica: Can you say a little more about the tea and grief workshop?

    Madelaine: So this is a topic that is being led by my friend, who owns her own business, Melissa Ulven Coaching. She’s been doing a lot of research and work on death planning.

    It is an entry-level workshop that will describe the use of adaptogen teas and tips for establishing a tea ritual for times of grief and bereavement. It’s essentially using tea as a vehicle for processing grief, which I think is really beautiful. I can personally attest that tea has allowed me to find healing.

    Jessica: What do you hope festival attendees take away from the event?

    Madelaine: I hope that people who attend the festival are inspired to connect with other people, to build community, to be a part of the community, and that they feel a general sense of awe and wonder. Because I think that that’s what tea festivals are really capable of inspiring, and also that people learn about tea and that they learn about the history of tea and different cultural practices.

    We’re going to have a variety of tea ceremonies happening in the marketplace. I hope everyone can participate in a tea ceremony because there’s much to learn from it.

    It sounds like Madelaine and her team have created a fascinating line up for this International Tea Day, which will inspire “awe and wonder.” Find out more about the inaugural Eugene Tea Festival at eugeneteafest.org.

  • First Tea Culture Week in Brazil

    Tea Culture Week, scheduled for August 1-7, 2022, will feature online and in-person activities across Brazil. Retailers, marketers, tea educators, and volunteer enthusiasts have been planning the event for months, according to Elizeth R.S. van der Vorst, founder of Amigos do Chá. Events include special tastings, formal afternoon teas, gift offers, and discounts to encourage sampling as well as public presentations, workshops, and gatherings in parks and tea houses.

    Organizers include Yuri Hayashi, founder of Escola de Chá Embahu in Sao Paulo, Claudia Sant’Anna, Daniela Folquitto, Daniela Pirozzi, Ligia Gabbi, Luciana Maira, and Eli Vorst,

    • Caption: Elizeth R.S. van der Vorst, Consultora de Negócios do Chá, Certified TAC Tea Sommelier

    Hear the interview

    Eli Vorst founder Amigos do Chá

    1a Semana da Cultura do Chá no Brazil

    1st Tea Culture Week in Brazil

    By Dan Bolton

    Brazil will for the first time this year celebrate one of South America’s less well-known tea cultures which dates to the early 1800s.

    The more than 212 million people living in Brazil, a country hard-hit during the pandemic, are traversing a familiar path as health-conscious consumers seek plant-based foods and beverages. Brazilians traditionally consume great quantities of coffee and herbal infusions. Yerba mate remains popular in the south of Brazil.

    Brazilians drink an average of 10 cups of Camellia sinensis annually – a quantity that has increased from a meager 18 grams per person consumed in 2016 – but remains well below Chile’s 730 grams per head and much less than Ireland’s 2.2 kilo-per-person average.

    In the past five years specialty tea cafes and franchised tea emporiums have flourished, says Eli Vorst. During the period 2013 to 2020 tea consumption increased 25%, “almost double the world average of 13%” according to market research firm Euromonitor.

    The popularity of iced and ready-to-drink tea average less than one liter per person is also growing as Brazil develops a thirst for loose leaf Camellia sinensis.

    The number of specialty tea emporiums and cafes in Brazil is growing
    The number of specialty tea emporiums and cafes is growing according to this chart which shows the number of Franquias de lojas de chas e cafes (Tea and coffee shop franchise) locations has doubled in the past decade. Shops specializing in tea and coffee (Lojas especializadas em chas e cafes) have also increased.

    Dan Bolton: Eli, Will you describe for listeners the tea market in Brazil?

    Eli Vorst: When we started our activities in Brazil in the 1980s, importing teas from the Netherlands and later from Germany, the tea market did not exist yet. We did not have the marketing tools to spread the tea culture.

    We had to work in this way: direct sales business-to-business and face-to-face convincing consumers. It was slow going, but we knew that one day this could change.

    We can say that the tea market in Brazil started five years ago when there was a “boom” of new tea shops, specialized stores, new tea specialists, sommeliers, enthusiasts, and tea courses. In addition to tea courses, in 2013, we had the first official institution of tea teaching called “Escola de Chá Embahu,” founded by Yuri Hayashi and her husband, Claudio Brisighello.

    In parallel with this leap in the market, we saw the growth of a tea community on social networks, which motivated a more significant number of consumers and tea lovers.

    In 2020, with the pandemic, we felt a greater demand for a healthy lifestyle,  generating a significant increase in the healthy food and beverage sector, including, of course, teas/blends and tisanes.

    We feel that the market is growing. Due to our versatility with the Camellia Sinensis and new tendencies within mixology and culinary, we are gaining strength to dispel the myths that tea is just a hot drink to have in the winter season.

    Today, our market has a growing number of tea importers, and it is worth mentioning that Brazil also has a small tea producer’s community aiming for quality specialty tea.

    See: Obaatian The Brazilian Mestizo Tea

    By the way, do you know that Brazil was the first country to produce tea in the Occident? The introduction of tea cultivation in 1812, with seeding, seeds, and the first Chinese tea workers to arrive in Brazil.

    Yuri Hayashi Semana da Cultura do Cha no Brazil

    Dan: Will you describe the goal you have in mind?

    Eli: Our focus is to expand the market and bring in a minimal of knowledge to Brazilian on the stop key. We want also to keep tea culture alive. We will be a little contribution for our tea market.

    “The Tea movement is just beginning, a tip of  the great iceberg. Tea culture in Brazil is still in its infancy, it may take some time, but we have to start.”

    – Eli Vorst

    Dan: How do you see the future of tea in Brazil?

    Eli: Well, this is the question that I am excited to answer because I am very positive in the tea market, always I have been positive. I have worked 27 years in the tea market here in Brazil and I am still here. I can say that with the help of such engaged and serious people who have knowledge and such a clear vision of our tea market, all this energy can only give us a lot of hopefulness for our future. I believe that in order to obtain a well structured market, it’s necessary to create awareness and consistency with our Brazilian consumer. The consumer is the key. Teaching them is necessary in order to spread this ancient culture.

    Education needs to be assertive to obtain concrete results in the future. In time the Brazilian tea market can be visible to the rest of the world. Of course, there is a need for help from various government agencies, with benefits and assistance to tea producers, farmers, and greater openness to importers, who suffer from various impediments.

    The Tea movement is just beginning, a tip of the great iceberg, which is to spread the tea culture Brazil. I can categorically say that it has not been easy. We could do it all over again, if necessary, because it is worth fighting for something you believe in: Camellia sinensis is worth it. Tea is worth having as a business and as a lifestyle. But the most touching and important thing is that the tea brings us together in a passionate way, stirring our senses. This is what we like to show and teach, for those who have not yet experienced this delightful beverage, and to those who already know, we asked them to help us to spread this culture around our country.

    About Amigos do Chá

    Tea is a delight for the senses and has always been celebrated as a cultural treasure and an art, so our goal and contribution is to bring this comfort, relaxation, pleasure and contemplation to our customers.

    About Escola de Chá Embahu

    Since 2013, Yuri Hayashi has dedicated her life to teaching others about specialty tea. This pioneering work constitutes the pillars of the Embahú tea school, which has the support of her husband, Cláudio Brisighello and other tea professionals in Sao Paulo.

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  • Victory for Japanese Tea Marathon

    As athletes from around the world competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, tea lovers participated in an event of their own: the Japanese Tea Marathon.

    The marathon included 15 days of online events that shone a spotlight on Japan’s teas, producers, and the 15 tea-producing regions. Led by the Global Japanese Tea Association and Japan Tea Central Council, tea marathoners learned about 30 Japanese teas, how to brew them, and where they’re grown.

    Kyle Whittington, a Tea Biz contributor and host of the TeaBookClub, attended every tea marathon event, tasting 30 teas over 15 sessions. He gives the event a gold medal!

    Listen to Tea Biz’s interview with Kyle Whittington:

    Kyle Whittington on successfully finishing the Japanese Tea Marathon.

    Marathon hosts were members of the Global Japanese Tea Association

    A Race for Tea Lovers

    Jessica Natale Woollard: What was it about the Japanese Tea Marathon that inspired you to attend so diligently?

    Kyle Whittington: It was the range of teas, that’s what really got me hooked. I have to admit, I fully intended not to attend all the sessions when I signed up for the Tea Marathon. But once I got started, I was so caught up with the variety and quality of the teas, I developed a serious case of FOMO and couldn’t miss a day! After the first few sessions, I thought, I have to attend tomorrow’s. The presentations, chats with the farmers, and videos, got me hooked into exploring each new tea region of Japan each day.

    About midway through the marathon, I decided to sign up as a Pioneer Member with the Global Japanese Tea Association. I thought what they were doing, their passion, was inspiring, and I had to support it. Whenever I struggled to get up early to attend the marathon, making sure I turned up to support them was what spurred me on.

    Jessica: Did you set up your own tea rituals when partaking in the tea marathon? For example, did you select specific vessels to use with certain teas or set up your space a certain way?

    Kyle: I have a little bit of an admission here. I attended the first few events from the bath — with camera and microphone off and sticker over the camera on the iPad, just to be sure that I wasn’t flashing the world! I’m just not a morning person. So being compos mentis, awake and functioning for 8 am and looking respectable for the camera was not going to work for me and took some getting used to. My solution was to soak in the bath while I adjusted to the schedules. The first two or three sessions I did from the bath, and then got up and did the tea tastings downstairs. The rest of the sessions I did on my iPad while I did the washing up, made breakfast, and went through my morning routine. When it came to brewing the teas, then I would sit down, get out my nice Japanese tea ware and enjoy brewing the teas along with everybody else on the marathon.

    That was really nice — delving into my collection and selecting pieces based on the tea we were brewing and its requirements for brewing, the recommendations the farmers gave about volume and water temperature. I got to use pieces I haven’t used in ages. It was so nice to do that and then post some pictures to Instagram.

    The first day of the marathon was quite special as I had my first tea ceremony guests since before the first lockdown last year. I saved the teas from that day’s session to serve to my guests. I used the Fukamushicha from Kagoshima and brewed it cold to serve when they arrived as a refresher. I served it to my guests in the garden while we chatted. Later, we brewed the tea hot. I made a ponzu dressing (soy sauce and lemon), and we ate the tea leaves after brewing three infusions. It was a lovely touch to open the first day of the marathon in that special way.

    Jessica: How did hearing from the tea producers right before you tried their teas influence the tasting experience?

    Kyle: We heard from the farmers before and during the tasting, learning about their growing and processing. What I really enjoyed was them teaching us how to brew their teas. You can’t get much better brewing advice than that. It was interesting to explore with them their individual approaches and practices. We learned so much from them — new and interesting brewing methods for specific teas. They had great fun showing us the special tea ware they had developed with local potters specifically for those teas that they grow. You were actually learning how to use the tea at home from the person who grew it.

    Jessica: Did any particular farmer’s story capture your imagination?

    Kyle: Several! Their passion and dedication really shone through, as did that of the marathon organizers. I was particularly caught by the story of Otoyo Goishicha Kyodo Kumiai from Kochi prefecture. He makes Goishicha, a rare fermented tea. He was the last farmer making it at one point and saved it from extinction. There are now three producers, but he saved this tea; it would no longer exist otherwise. It was captivating.

    Slabs of dried, fermented Goishicha. Photo credit: Simona Suzuki

    I also really enjoyed Forthees from Nagasaki. We heard a really lovely story of four young tea farmers who joined together to open a factory and create their special teas, which we tasted. It was just lovely, the way they’d come together in their community to push forward and promote tea together. We tasted their Tamaryuokucha and Bo Hojicha, made from the stems from matcha production.

    Jessica: Is there one tea in particular that, because of the marathon, is on your list to explore further?

    Kyle: How to pick just one? I might have to pick two or three.

    Goishicha absolutely! I only heard about this rare, fermented Japanese tea last year. I was excited when I saw it was on the list for the Japanese Tea Marathon, and I was looking forward to hearing from the producer. I loved it. It was amazing. Absolutely delicious. I drank it all day; it’s one of those teas you just keep on brewing. It’s way at the top of my shopping list.

    Sannen Bancha, note the unusual inclusion of thick, woody stems. Photo by Denis Torres.

    I also really enjoyed the Sannen Bancha, which I’m sipping as we’re chatting. It’s made from tea bushes that have been left to grow for three years before being harvested and processed. It has huge big chunks of stem in it, and it tastes really delicious. It’s sweet and gorgeous.

    The other one that stood out for me was the Gyokuro from Yoshida Meicaen in Kyoto. It was amazing. I had goosebumps when I took the first sip. It was one of those incredibly amazing teas.

    Gyokuro from Yoshida Meicaen in Kyoto. Photo credit: Kyle Whittington

    Jessica: After this rigorous test of your tea endurance, are there any lessons learned you can share with our listeners?

    Kyle: One thing that really came through is the importance of brewing techniques. Understanding each individual tea and its brewing requirements and characteristics. Especially with the Japanese teas. With the farmers showing us different ways to brew, it showed how much a difference it makes. The Japanese method of boiling the water and then cooling it to the required temperature actually makes a huge difference to the taste of the tea and how it brews rather than what we tend to do, which is heat the water right to the required temperature.

    I hope we’re going to have more of these events in the future, given that we’re used to online events now. With any event like this, I think it’s important to find a way to make the structure and the time work for you — like I did, by attending from the bath! When events are digital, we have flexibility that we wouldn’t have if we were attending in person.

    Explore Kyle’s favorite Japanese teas — Yokuro, Goishicha, Sannen Bancha — and all the other teas from the Japanese Tea Marathon on the Japanese Tea Association website.

    The Global Japanese Tea Association reports that association membership increased by 25% during the course of the marathon, with some 89 new member registrations. GJTA has therefore, thanks to the Japanese Tea Marathon, achieved their target of reaching 100 Pioneer Members, those who were the first to trust in and support the association.

    Listen to Tea Biz’s interview with Simona Suzuki of the Japanese Tea Association.

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  • Q|A Jan Holzapfel

    First-flush teas flown to J.T. Ronnefeldt Tea’s blending and packaging facility in Frankfurt Germany account for only 0.02% of the company’s offerings by weight, yet in a single season “flight tea” generates more greenhouse gas emissions than the millions of kilos transported by ship, says owner Jan Holzapfel. He acknowledges that for a premium tea supplier, abandoning expedient air cargo after 75 years is a significant step: “however, we have a responsibility towards nature that we take very seriously.”

    Ronnefeldt Mood Tea

    Sustainable Wholesale

    Sustainable best practices in the tea gardens are well established and often third-party certified. The tea supply chain links that follow also offer significant opportunities to protect the environment and conserve energy resources. Costs vary by origin and distance to market but middlemen add 20% or more to the cost of delivering tea to retail. Jan Holzapfel, the owner of 198-year-old J. T. Ronnefeldt Tea, has for five years published a sustainability report that clearly states the company’s goals and measures progress toward achieving these initiatives. In 2021 Ronnefeldt is replacing its tea packaging with eco-friendly Teavelopes, embracing traceability, and reducing emissions by no longer air freighting tea.

    Dan Bolton: Ronnefeldt eliminated air cargo in favor of sea transport and will complete its conversion to sustainable packaging materials by year-end. The company is also trading some of its gas-powered vehicles for electric and hybrid-powered vehicles. Will you share with listeners your vision of sustainable wholesale in tea.

    Jan-Berend Holzapfel: Tea is one of the most natural products that you can find on earth. So we as tea producers and tea suppliers must do everything we can to ensure that we continue to have great teas from around the world.

    It is a tradition to have the first flush season teas from Darjeeling transported by air to Germany and Europe, but we stopped this year. Anybody out there waiting for his first flush will have to wait maybe six or eight weeks longer than normal.

    We want to make sure that we get the tea here in an as environmentally friendly way as possible. That is the reason why we have stopped air cargo completely.

    I think it is the right thing to do.

    Another of the many, many steps that we have taken is to eliminate all the traditional packaging materials. We are well on the way to meeting our 2021 goal of fully sustainable packaging materials.

    Teavelope made of sustainable materials
    A Ronnefeldt Teavelope made of sustainable materials.

    It’s not that easy I have to say. Supply is always an issue.  

    We want safe and customer-friendly packaged material, of course, our team has been doing great work here and found all the different packaging materials that we need so that all will be sustainable by the end of this year. 

    For the last five years, we have been publishing our Sustainability Report to show our commitment to sustainability along the entire supply chain from cultivation and transport to refining, packaging, and shipping.

    Here are the company’s five sustainability goals at a glance:

    • 100% sustainable packaging materials
    • Increase training hours per employee
    • Procure tea from small plantations
    • Increase share of organic teas on offer
    • Transition to electric, hybrid, or fuel cell vehicles

    Dan: You mention that Ronnefeldt is also increasing the proportion of organic tea in its range.

    Jan: We are not an organic company yet, but we try to increase our tea selection in our organic range on a constant basis. The good thing is that tea gardens in Asia, but also in Africa, are turning to organic manufacturing methods and therefore we find more and more selection of organic teas. And we are happy to put them Into our range.

    As far as we can see our customer side really appreciates organic, it’s a small proportion of the market, but it’s growing, especially with the younger people.

    Dan: What is your view on traceability and public disclosure of source gardens?

    Jan: I think it’s a very good idea. We see that a lot of customers are really keen and really interested in finding out where the tea is coming from, how it has been produced, how it can be used, and sometimes they are even interested in corporate social responsibility programs at these tea gardens. We are looking for a way to put traceability information online. I think that is the best way because sometimes tea gardens and supplies are changing quite often during the year. If we do it, for example with a QR code and website so that we can really provide up-to-date information about all the specific teas that are available.

    One thing we are also trying is to promote new tea growing areas. 

    There are some fantastic teas from New Zealand, Columbia, Mozambique, Korea, you name it and we are really trying to promote them and help them to grow so that we don’t have to rely on the big tea-producing countries in the future. 

    Dan: Will you discuss your commitment to education and the return to face-to-face instruction beginning in July.

    Jan: Quite often you find that service people in the hotel business all know how to handle the coffee machine, which is quite easy. They might be very interested in wines and make perfect recommendations, but tea seems to be a little bit more difficult. So we have set up different levels of education depending on the outlet, the style of the restaurant, or the cafe in the hotel. 

    We provide anything from a quick 40-minute training with the iPhone or Google app, or up to two days with our team. The gold standard is our seven-day trip to the tea gardens in Sri Lanka.

    We are very happy that we are going to restart face-to-face training in July after the lockdowns. It has been a really, really long time. We can educate about tea, but one key element is really tasting the tea and the interaction with instructors and peers. That is something which can really be only done face to face. 

    Dan: Ronnefeldt supplies upscale hotels in more than 80 countries. How is the recovery progressing?

    Jan: We already see a lot of hotels booking our training programs, our education programs. Before the pandemic, we trained 7,000 hotel staff members each year and that is where we want to come back to as soon as possible. 

    We have seen that since January and February business is picking up in hotels and restaurants in Asia, for example, in China, Korea, and Japan. These are now hot markets for us, but there’s one issue — it’s local tourism now, so it’s the Koreans visiting Korean hotels. There is no international tourism yet.

    In the Middle East hotels are starting to be filled up, but again, it’s local tourists. Europe got a late start. We see restaurants, cafes, etc., being filled up since May but again, international tourists, for example from China or from the United States, are still not here.

    I’m optimistic. I think that tourism will return in summer, maybe early fall. 

    We already see that the hotels in the countryside, real tourist destinations, are already filled every weekend here in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

    What will take much longer is business travel to trade shows, conferences, etc., which might take until next year. City destinations still have a lot of capacity to fill.

    Ronnefeldt Tea Academy
    Ronnefeldt Tea Academy

    Ronnefeldt TeaAcademy®

    There are more than 20,000 graduates of the Ronnefeldt TeaAcademy® a program established in 2000 to increase the number of tea experts among beverage professionals so that they can offer the best service for their restaurant or hotel.

    Frank Holzapfel, who created the academy, wrote at the time that “High-quality tea alone is not enough, the tea needs the right preparation, the perfect handling, and the creative staging on-site in the hotel and restaurant by competent and trained employees.”

    Taught in Frankfurt, the two-day Silver-level training is for junior managers in food and beverage with at least one year of professional experience. Apply in writing using the link below and Ronnefeldt will confirm your eligibility in a personal interview.

    Ronnefeldt TeaMaster® Silver certificate holders seeking to bring their tea expertise to perfection may apply for an in-depth seven-day immersion at origin in Sri Lanka. The gold-level program is designed not only to build skills and master techniques but also to achieve a higher level of personal development with individual coaching. Graduates are certified as TeaMasters.

    ? Dan Bolton

    Bernard-Maria Lotz

    TeaAcademy® Head Bernhard-Maria Lotz

    TeaAcademy® “graduates” are true tea experts who can answer any question your guests may have on the topic of tea. The exciting training courses teach practical skills and are designed to be fun.

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  • Japanese Tea Marathon

    Tea lovers, not just athletes, are getting ready to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. Tea enthusiasts from around the world can participate in a marathon of their very own: a marathon of tea.

    The Japanese Tea Marathon is a series of live, online events showcasing teas from 15 of Japan’s tea producing regions. The Zoom sessions, each open to 1,000 viewers, begin July 23 and will be held twice daily, concluding August 8. Two hundred people will enjoy a free flight of teas to accompany the events. The Japan Tea Marathon is a partnership between the Global Japanese Tea Association and the Japan Tea Central Council. The entire world of tea will have an opportunity to cheer their favorite tea to victory.

    Simona Suzuki, née Zavadckyte, co-founder and president Global Japanese Tea Association

    Japan Tea Maraton
    Japan Tea Marathon

    A Race for Tea Lovers

    Tea Biz’s Jessica Natale Woollard speaks with Simona Suzuki, president of the Global Japanese Tea Association, about the Japanese Tea Marathon.

    Tea Biz: How did you choose which teas to feature in the marathon? 

    Simona Suzuki: As you know, Japan makes green tea. However, there are many different kinds, many variations. We wanted to show the variety of Japanese tea, including the 15 tea producing regions, and show their unique teas, their regional teas. Some teas are common across Japan, and some are much less known. We wanted to give a good picture of what Japanese tea is like.  

    Tea Biz: Can you tell us about a few of the teas that will be on the menu?

    Simona Suzuki: We are having 30 teas altogether, two from each region. For example, a very traditional, high-grade loose-leaf tea here in Japan, gyokuro. There are a few areas where gyokuro is made, so we are introducing it from Kyoto and from Fukuoka. It’s one of the really beautiful, umami-rich, sweet teas of Japan.

    Also, organic has been a big topic recently. People are curious and interested in organic and healthy foods. We wanted to include that as well, even if Japan does not produce that much organic tea yet. But there are a few regions where organic tea is made. We are including organic matcha and organic sencha from Kagoshima and Nara. 

    Some of these teas are very well known, abroad as well. But there are also some regional teas that are lesser known. We are really excited to introduce a little-known tea from Kochi Prefecture called goishi-cha. It’s a post-fermented dark tea that has a totally different shape from the teas that people think Japan produces. It’s squares of pressed leaves and has a very unique taste. I hope people will be excited to try it.

    Tea Biz: Will people be able to learn more about all the teas you’ve selected on your website? 

    Simona Suzuki: A big part of this project is to introduce the tea farmers, introduce their teas and the key regions themselves. 

    We do want to share a lot of this information on the website. People can look on our Japanese Tea Marathon website, and they will find information about tea regions and the teas themselves. 

    Tea Biz: Will some of the farmers be presenting at your online events? 

    Simona Suzuki: Definitely, that is our main feature, to introduce the tea farmers, the tea producers. Japanese tea is struggling a little bit; there are many challenges with decreasing demand and aging farmer population and so on. We want to focus on the farmers and producers who put all their heart into making the tea. We will be inviting one or two producers from every region to speak about their region and their teas, to share their stories with participants.

    Tea Biz: Whenever it’s an Olympic year, there’s always a focus on the country hosting. You’re offering a different glimpse into Japanese culture, Japanese tea culture. 

    Simona Suzuki: We definitely feel the Olympic spirit in Japan, and we wanted to join in. Tea is a big part of the culture here, so I think it’s essential to introduce it. 

    Tea Biz: I’ve heard that you’ve already had many participants sign up for the tea tastings and events. Can you tell me a little bit about the people who are going to be participating? 

    Simona Suzuki: We can welcome up to 1,000 people to this event. So far we’ve had people registering from over 40 different countries around the world. This is going to be a really global event.

    Tea Biz: Incredible! Forty countries represented already.

    A marathon of tea sounds like one marathon I just might be able to complete. 

    Simona Suzuki
    Simona Suzuki leading a tasting of Japanese tea.

    Marathon Details

    Visit the Global Japanese Tea Association for more information to sign up.

    Event dates and times: The Japanese Tea Marathon will be held between 23rd July – 8th August. To account for the time difference each regional event will be held twice a day: 11am-1pm and 4pm-6pm (JST). 

    Event language: English will be the main language of the events with some translation from Japanese.

    Participation fee: Participation in the Japanese Tea Marathon is free of charge.

    Participation mode: Online through Zoom. Zoom information will be sent to registered participants before the start of the Japanese Tea Marathon.

    Participation options:

    • Ticket with a set of 30 teas (2 from each region)
      • Registration deadline 30th May, 2021
      • Limited up to 200 participants. If more than 200 people apply, priority will be given to those, who: 
        • can participate in the whole marathon
        • can help promote the event (tea schools, tea shops, tea blogs, etc.)
      • The tea set and shipping are free of charge, but depending on the country import taxes and duties may apply.
    • Regular ticket
      • Registration deadline 7th August, 2021
      • Available up to 1000 people

    Recording: The events will be recorded and may be displayed publicly. If you do not wish to be recorded, please have your video and audio off. 

    ? Jessica Natale Woollard

    Japan Tea Marathon
    Japan Tea Marathon

    The Japanese Tea Marathon is organized by and the Japan Tea Central Council PIIA and the Global Japanese Tea Association. 

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