Producing Organic Tea in Japan: Challenges and Advancements

Organic tea cultivation is gaining popularity in Japan, with more farms and finishing factories attempting to produce teas organically. In several prefectures, including Kanagawa, Shiga, Miyazaki, Saga, and Shizuoka, the study of organic tea cultivation is becoming increasingly active.

A test was conducted between 1991-1994 in Nakakawanecho in Kanbara, Shizuoka prefecture, to compare the quality of organic and regular tea. The results showed that there was not much difference in the quality of the first harvested tea (Ichibancha). However, for the second harvested tea (Nibancha), the quality and harvested amount of organically grown tea dropped greatly. This is because the anthrax tea tree gets during the fall period, or mochi disease or damage by insects. One countermeasure to prevent anthrax is pruning the tea trees right after the second harvest, which can reduce the chance of disease.

While more farms in mountainous regions are attempting organic tea cultivation, it is challenging and requires special attention. The organic tea cultivation process is difficult and susceptible to disease and insect damage. Selecting strong breeds of tea plants and utilizing natural enemies of pests can be helpful.

To indicate that tea has been grown organically, the Japanese government strictly controls the labeling of organic tea. All criteria are set by the Japan Agricultural Society (JAS), which decides which tea can be labeled with the organic JAS mark to prove that it was made organically. This system of indication was started in April 2001.

In conclusion, organic tea cultivation is becoming increasingly popular in Japan, and while it poses challenges, many farms are successfully producing high-quality organic green tea. With continued advancements in cultivation techniques and disease prevention measures, the future of organic tea production in Japan is promising.

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