Is My Tea Safe?
Since the awful devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I have been responding to questions on tea safety.
Let me first state that my heart is heavy for the people of Japan; this has been one of the world’s worst acts of nature thus far. It is with much reverence that I write this article.
First, the fear of the unknown is coming to the forefront of people’s minds as well as just simple fear. I have been scouring any connections, companies, and agencies to do the proper research for this article. I must say that the media in general are trying to get the information out to the people. But while there is good and even great information out there, as we all know there is as much misinformation out there as well.
Let me first start by saying that the box of tea or canister of loose tea you will purchase in a store now was harvested before the earthquake/tsunami or as much as one year before. So the tea is safe.
I’d like to take the time to give you some information about tea growing in Japan. The areas that were ruined by the tsunami, very little tea are produced there for retail. Tea plants are not grown near the seashore. The majority of tea produced for consumption is in the south of Japan.
There are approximately some forty-seven tea growing regions in Japan. One may hear of them referred to by the names of province, or prefecture. These are three areas that produce the most supply to retail (that includes on-line stores).
One is named Shizuoka; its location is just west of Tokyo. This area supplies about 40% of all the tea produced. Then there is Kigoshima, this produces about 20% of all tea product. Finally, located in the center of Japan is the province of Mie. This area has a long and deeply rooted tea cultivation history but does not supply much tea. Also culturally important are Nara and Kyoto. These two areas are where Buddhism had its beginnings and this is considered sacred.
It is currently considered winter in Japan now. Tea harvests do not occur in the winter.
The major growing areas are somewhat far away from the nuclear reactors. They are at its closest about 500 Km (a little over 310 miles), to 2,000 KM (about 1,242.74 miles). They are situated south of the city of Sendai.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare are currently working to putting protective measures in place, they are also taking samples and testing is continuing. According to CBS News and many other news agencies, at the time of this writing although radiation has been found in milk about 20 miles away from reactor plant and tainted spinach was also found some 65 miles away to the south of the plant, the risk is considered somewhat minimal. Many scientists concur that radiation is a naturally occurring part of our environment. It can be found daily in our soil, our air, and in our water. We even knowingly expose ourselves for example to medical and dental x-rays.
It appears that Japan’s exports will be diminished for many reasons, many areas of their country’s infrastructure has been so badly affected. Things like transportation systems, phones not operating or backed up and overloaded, blackouts as the electricity system has been severely ruined, roads impassable or non-existent.
So overall, the southwest of the country has been virtually “untouched” by the devastation where the majority of the tea is grown and harvested, but it appears that some time will pass before any sense of normalcy can happen for the people of Japan and their tea gardens. Japan tea production to the world is about 99% green tea.
Lastly, and in closing the tea on the shelves in the stores (and on-line) at this writing are safe for consumption. If you are a green tea drinker support Japan with drinking green tea. I hope this was news you can use.