(Updates up to April 15) How will the coronavirus pandemic affect Yunomi and the shipment of Japanese tea?

First of all, on behalf of all of Yunomi's staff and business partners, our hearts and prayers goes out to everyone who has been affected directly by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our main concerns are listed here, while the most current updates are directly below.

DHL Express (2-4 days) Shipping Promo $5 - $25. No minimum order. Applies to USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, UK. Details Here.

Updates

Last update: 2020 April 15. 

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2020.04.15 - We established a temporary new shipping policy to handle existing and future orders during this crisis.

2020.04.09 - The postal service in Japan, Japan Post, has just informed us that they have expanded their suspension of shipments to Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and several other countries. The full list of countries is here.

No delay announced: UK, Iceland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland (As of April 2)

Significant delay (2+ week backlog at Japan Post Tokyo International Shipping Center): USA, Canada, Germany, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan

CURRENT YUNOMI RESPONSE

  • We will hold shipments for delayed countries until tracking info of previously shipped items show sign of processing through the postal system.
  • Shipments to countries where shipments have been suspended will be held.
  • However, DHL shipments are going through, so where possible, we will also begin a DHL Express-based subsidized shipping promotion. Unshipped orders that qualify via the promotion criteria will be retroactively upgraded to DHL Express.

Text from Japan Post:

The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused many countries/territories to take measures such as stopping acceptance of inbound postal items as well as considerable suspension and reduction of flights from/to Japan. Accordingly, our transportation performance has significantly declined. Therefore, our temporary suspension of acceptance of international mail items, mainly EMS and parcel-post/letter-post items by air and SAL, started on April 2 will be extended for the time being from April 10. For details, please see the appendix (PDF:17kB).

In connection with this measure, the destinations subject to partial or entire suspension will be 160 countries/territories in total. Items which have already been accepted and cannot be dispatched to their destinations will be returned from the delivery offices to the senders in order. In addition, because of the global reduction of flights, considerable delivery delays are expected for outbound mail items to other countries/territories. 

2020.04.07 - Though shipments for USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, etc. are being accepted by the post office, and no indication has been made officially other than "there may be delays", tracking info does show that many though not all packages are being held up before they enter customs. We suspect that there is a backlog due to the decrease in flights to various countries.

Shincha - 2020 harvest - is proceeding as planned, and products will be listed on the 2020 Shincha Collection in the coming weeks. Tea auctions are proceeding with strict limits on who is allowed in the auction room (farmers themselves can no longer enter), and other measures have been put into place if anyone has been diagnosed with COVID. The wholesalers have been unable to sell off 2019 stock, and may be anticipating lower demand domestically as the economy takes a downturn. This will likely drive down prices in the market, and we will pass on any price decreases from larger suppliers, but we will seek to maintain prices for smaller ones (under 5 employees other than family).

2020.04.01 - Japan Post has stopped accepting airmail shipments (effective April 2) to 153 countries due to the lack of flights. The full list of countries is available here. Among these countries:

  • Still accepting shipments to USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia
  • Not accepting shipments to Spain, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland, Czech, Serbia, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ireland, New Zealand, etc. We will continue to accept orders for these countries so that you can take advantage of any promotions, but your orders will be held until they can be shipped.

 

2020.03.27 - We have begun hearing rumors that there are not enough flights carrying mail cargo leaving Japan due to the decline in overall passenger flights. We expect this situation to cause delays in shipment eventually.

The below table lists information on postal services in specific countries. Information comes from Japan Post based on notices released by the postal services in that country via the Universal Postal Union. (Last updated March 19)

Asia
China Delays will be experienced in the delivery of inbound mail items all over China.
In addition, addressees will be contacted by phone before delivery and items will not be handed directly to addressees.

Current situation in Japan
Acceptance of mail items destined to China is temporarily suspended except for some letter-post items.
Detailed information is provided at
https://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/information/2020/0312_01_en.html
Mongolia The international post office in Mongolia will be closed until April 1, and the period of closure might be extended.

Current situation in Japan
Acceptance of mail items destined to Mongolia is temporarily suspended.
Detailed information is provided at
https://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/information/2020/0303_01_en.html
Korea Items will not be handed directly to addressees in the following area.
Affected area: Daegu

Current situation in Japan
Delays are expected for dispatching mail items to Korea.
Hong Kong Domestic processing of mail is back to normal.

Current situation in Japan
Delays are expected for dispatching mail items to Korea.
Macao Domestic processing of mail is back to normal.

Current situation in Japan
Delays are expected for dispatching mail items to Korea.
Sri Lanka Domestic processing of mail will be suspended until March 20. The period of suspension may be extended.
Philippines Inbound mail is being processed by minimal staff at international mail processing centers until March 20.
All post offices in areas placed under quarantine are closed.
Maldives Acceptance of inbound mail items is suspended.
Singapore Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Therefore, it is recommended that you provide the addressee’s phone number.
Oceania
Australia Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
New Zealand Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
French Polynesia Acceptance of inbound mail items is suspended until March 31.
North and Central America
Panama Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
El Salvador Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
Honduras Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items until March 21. The period of suspension may be extended.
Jamaica Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items until March 24.
Cayman Islands Acceptance of inbound mail items is suspended.
South America
Peru Domestic processing of mail will be suspended from March 16 to 30.
Chile Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items. Acceptance of inbound mail items to Easter Island is suspended.
Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Middle East
Saudi Arabia Items will not be handed directly to addressees.
Kuwait Domestic processing of mail is currently suspended.
Cyprus Considerable delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
Israel Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Europe
Italy Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
In addition, items will not be handed directly to addressees in principle.
Spain Considerable delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
Portugal Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Estonia Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Latvia Domestic processing of mail is suspended from March 17.
Lithuania Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Slovenia Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
Luxembourg Items will not be handed directly to addressees.
Moldova Domestic processing of mail is suspended from March 16.
Germany Items will not be handed directly to addressees.
Romania Delays will be experienced in the delivery of mail items.
Malta Items will not be handed directly to addressees from March 17.
Ireland Items will not be handed directly to addressees, among other exceptional delivery measures.
Africa
Libya Domestic processing of mail will be suspended for 3 weeks from March 16.
Djibouti Acceptance of international mail will be suspended from March 18.
Tunisia Acceptance of inbound mail items is suspended.

 

 


 

2020.03.20 - An increasing number of USA states are declaring shelter-in-place orders. We confirmed that USPS, which delivers our orders to you, is an essential service so staff and delivery people are working and delivering your orders. Please thank them for their service if you have the chance. We hope you are well stocked with your essential necessities, and hope tea will be a small but welcome luxury during this unprecedented situation.

  


 

Main Concerns

The main concerns we have as a business shipping tea from Japan to tea enthusiasts around the world are:

    • Safety - How do we prevent workers and customers from getting sick?
      • Workers: Yunomi itself is a small company compromising of myself and 4 part-time staff. We work out of an older house in relatively close quarters. As such, we are wearing masks, and constantly washing our hands to reduce the risk of infecting each other. We are also come in contact with delivery people / postal workers who pick up shipments, and avoid all physical contact.
      • Customers: So far, the coronavirus doesn't look like it survives more than a day on any surface, so contamination of a package from Japan is unlikely. However, contamination of a package can occur from your local delivery location / delivery person. We encourage you to (1) leave your package aside for a day before handling. (2) Unpack them outside your home or in a single location in your home that can easily be disinfected (the counter of your bathroom for example). (3) Wash your hands before and after handling the package as well.
    • Operational delays - Will there be delays in delivery?
      • Fulfillment work - The situation may change at any time, but thus far, we don't expect any adverse delays in fulfillment of your order. Several staff are working shorter hours because they need to take care of children while school is suspended here in Japan. However, the rest of us have been able to make up for the labor shortage. So far, we don't see any delays among our suppliers either. Our main shipping days on Mondays and Thursdays may change from week to week as staff schedules change, but we expect most shipments to be sent to the post office within 2-3 days.
      • Shipping - We primarily use the Japanese post office / the postal service in your country. At the moment, shipments are being accepted to all countries that make up 99% of our shipping destinations. We do not see any information on delays of postal delivery at this time. This can change at any time, and we encourage you to seek information from your local post office. 

         

        Suspension / delay of shipments being reported by Japan Post

        • Shipments suspended: China, Mongolia 
        • Shipment delayed: Koreas
        • Delays are also being seen for Italy and Russia due to strengthened customs clearance procedures and Israel due to political turmoil.

         

        Updates from various postal services regarding the coronavirus:

         

        Can tea help prevent infection from the coronavirus?

        At Yunomi, we don't talk much about the health benefits of tea, because we believe everyone's situation is different - our bodies are different, our lifestyles are different, so the effect that tea may have will be different.

        However, I have seen news reports about cracking down on unscrupulous tea sellers promoting tea as a cure for the coronavirus specifically, so I'd like to get ahead of the curve on this.

        There are studies that seem to indicate that tea may inhibit or disable coronaviruses (in general) as well as flu viruses. However, I have not seen anything close to a clinical study determining whether drinking tea is helpful in fighting or preventing infection.

        The Tokyo Tea Trade Association promoted in Japanese recently that gargling with tea may help prevent infection from colds, flus and viruses, but again, I recommend against thinking that this is any sort of effective prevention method.

        Finally, regarding the coronavirus specifically, I have seen a single news report from the China Daily that cautions against a single study that shows tea polyphenols killing the virus in vitro because the virus infects your lungs, and you do not pour tea into your lungs.

        How does drinking tea help you during this pandemic?

        Tea enthusiasts everywhere will attest to the fact that drinking tea as a hobby, as a lifestyle, is meditative—especially when you take the time to turn making and drinking tea into even a short 5-10 minute ritual. If you are stuck at home during this time of increased social distancing, I recommend taking the time to do some side by side tastings comparing two different teas, or the same tea at two different temperatures (among other enjoyable tea drinking activities). If you've got other ways to enjoy tea, please share on the Yunomi Community page.

        CoronavirusShipping

        6 comments

        Gerald Gaiser

        Gerald Gaiser

        Things seem to be moving a bit. Two of my orders were handed to Japan Post March 30. One has reached Los Angeles yesterday and second one appears to be on a plane. Fingers crossed.

        Sam Lambert

        Sam Lambert

        So good to have your calm, objective comments about the health effects of drinking tea at this time of the coronavirus pandemic, avoiding false promises. While tea generally has health benefits, there is no real evidence yet that tea drinkers are more resistant to the coronavirus.

        Jasmine

        Jasmine

        Thanks for this update. I was trying to figure out if I would get my tea that I just ordered, so this is very reassuring. The community of Yunomi always keeps me coming back! Stay safe!

        Joe Gigas

        Joe Gigas

        Nicely thought out and written Ian. Thank you and best wishes to you and your staff!

        Suzanne

        Suzanne

        Thank you Ian for this update—adds to Yunomi’s extremely consistent customer service and quality products. My sincere wishes to all for the best of health.

        Lindsay serres

        Lindsay serres

        Thank you so much for taking the time to write and address this! I was concerned a little bit as I order tea quite frequently from you, but this has calmed my nerves. I’ve begun leaving any packages I get aside, no matter where they are from. I hope you all stay healthy and happy! Thank you again for all you do!

        Lindsay

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