Is the Radiation in Japan Affecting Tea Production?

With all the tragedy and heartbreak that Japan has faced following the massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster there is even more the country must deal with. Radiation has been affecting their food crops, including Japanese tea production.

From an article in the San Francisco Chronicle here is the latest news:

The government decided yesterday to curb shipments of dried tea leaves containing more than 500 becquerel per kilogram of radioactive cesium and ordered a halt in shipments from the eastern prefectures of Ibaraki, Chiba, Kanagawa and Tochigi where tainted produce was detected. Japan's tea production, including fresh and dried leaves, was worth 102.1 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in 2009, according to the agriculture ministry.

The decision came after Shizuoka prefecture, Japan's largest growing region representing about 40 percent of total output, declared its green tea was safe. Governor Heita Kawakatsu said last month tests on fresh leaves and drinks showed they contained cesium amounts well below the government levels. Still, cesium levels in dried leaves could be about five times higher than fresh leaves, said Yasuo Sasaki, senior press counselor at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

"The new regulation may spur shipment restrictions from Shizuoka prefecture, slashing supplies and boosting prices of green teas," Sasaki said today in a telephone interview. "Higher prices could spur consumers to shift from green tea to cheaper alternatives such as barley tea or oolong tea."

This is a topic I want to stay in touch with as Japanese sencha tea is one of my favorites. I will keep you posted to news as I come across it.

One thought on “Is the Radiation in Japan Affecting Tea Production?”

  1. This is funny, I do not think of oolong tea as a “cheaper alternative” to green tea.

    Shizuoka is pretty far from the nuclear disasters…if they have a problem with radiation, it would be a sign that the problem is much more serious than had initially been thought. I am hopeful that that area will remain safe.

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