The tea fields have become bright yellow-green as they are blanketed by new leaves of the first flush shincha. Last night, we talked to the representative of the grower’s group about purchasing this year’s shincha tea leaves. (Remember, NaturaliTea’s teas are come from both our fields as well as those of our 26 grower partners.)
Due to public concerns about radiation contamination from the Fukushima incident, everyone has been suffering even though our 2011 tea leaves were well under safety limits. (73 Bq/kg last year vs 500 Bq/kg. The standard is now 100 Bq/kg in Japan, and as far as we know, still 1200 Bq/kg in the U.S. Our 2011 first flush shincha tea leaves were disposed of since we were aiming for much safer levels.)
The discussion turned silent as no one had an answer on how to combat the effects of bad public image for Shizuoka tea. What can we do going forward? 2012 tea looks to be almost completely radiation free (test results due in the beginning of May), but the effects of bad public image continue in Japan. It is not the fault of consumers, who feel safe once they talk to producers like us. However, when there are levels of distribution (distributor > retailer > consumer), the relationship of trust breaks down. Understandable, and hard to combat.
Producers, we need to find better ways to communicate through these levels of distribution. We need to find more points of sale. We have worked hard to produce delicious tea leaves, let’s not let them go to waste!