Japan boasts the 10th largest tea production in the world. Although the production volume is not that large, Japanese green tea has enthusiasts worldwide, and the brand power of "Japanese tea" is alive and well worldwide.
Here, we will introduce each prefecture's tea production volume and each production area's characteristics.
Tea producing regions in Japan
In Japan, there are many famous tea producing regions such as Shizuoka Prefecture.
Let's take a look at the production volume of tea in Japan as a whole and by prefecture.
Production volume by prefecture
As of 2014, green tea is grown in 40 Prefectures in Japan.
Green tea cultivars are hard to grow in cold regions, so it is rarely grown in areas further north than Niigata and Ibaraki Prefectures.
Among them, Shizuoka Prefecture has the largest production volume, accounting for about 38% of the total in Japan.
Kagoshima, Mie and Kyoto are other prefectures that produce a lot of green tea.
Green tea planted area by prefecture
As of 2019, Shizuoka has the largest green tea planted area by prefecture.
In Shizuoka, 15,900 hectares of land are devoted to tea cultivation, far ahead of the 2nd place.
Kagoshima Prefecture was ranked the 2nd, and Mie Prefecture the 3rd, and there is basically a proportional relationship between production and planted area.
Characteristics of green tea production in each prefecture
In this section, I will briefly explain the characteristics of green tea production in each prefecture.
As mentioned above, Shizuoka Prefecture is the largest tea producing region in Japan in terms of both production volume and the planted area.
The feature is that there are a lot of lands suitable for producing good qualsity tea.
However, it is also true that problems such as the deterioration of the management of the tea industry and the shortage of successors have been occurring.
Nowadays, in order to overcome this situation, they are trying to use green tea to attract tourists. It is called “green tourism” that combines tourism resources and green tea.
Kagoshima Prefecture is the 2nd largest tea production in Japan and is famous for its tea producing region.
Farmers produce green tea with a wide variety of tastes, such as fragrant tea that takes advantage of the characteristics of the mountainous region, where there is a large difference in temperature between day and night, and tea with a distinct taste grown in the rich sunshine.
The green tea grown in Mie Prefecture is also called “Ise tea” and has a long history of about 1,000 years.
Mie Prefecture played an important role in earning foreign currency by exporting tea from the late Edo period to the early Meiji period.
Today, the production volume of “Kabusecha” which is cultivated by covering the tea plantations, is the largest in Japan.
Miyazaki prefecture has been known as a famous tea production area since the Edo period.
Farmers are actively supporting the tea industry by cultivating the cold-tolerant “Kirari 31” tea cultivar, and by jointly developing a new type of tea processing machine.
The tea produced in Fukuoka Prefecture is characterized by its sweet and deep taste, and is commonly known as “Yame tea”.
Yame's Gyokuro is grown using traditional rice straw, and has won the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award at the National Tea Fair for 10 consecutive years.
Kyoto is known for its traditional green tea production, but it was ASHIKAGA Yoshimitsu, the 3rd shogun of the Muromachi period, who laid the foundation for this.
It is said that he was attracted by the great taste of Uji tea and opened the famous green tea production area called “Uji Shichimeien”(The seven tea gardens).
In addition, the manufacturing method of Uji tea, which emphasizes quality, has been passed down to modern mechanical green tea production, and is characterized by its production based on the hand-rolling process.
Saitama Prefecture is known as the “Sayama Tea” and is the northernmost region of green tea cultivation.
The characteristic of Sayama tea is that it has a sweet and rich taste when it overcomes the cold winter.
Although it can only be harvested twice a year due to the cold environment, it is attractive because of its excellent quality and storage behavior.
Nara Prefecture is a producing region of “Yamato tea”.
It is said that the cultivation of Yamato tea started in 806, and it has been passed down for about 1,200 years.
Originally, the tea company in Nara mainly produced Sencha (steeped green tea), Kabusecha and Bancha, but in recent years it has also produced “Tencha” which is the raw material of Matcha.
Saga Prefecture is home to Ureshino, a famous tea production area, and boasts the 8th largest production volume in Japan.
Ureshino tea is characterized by its strong aroma and flavor of tea leaves.
At the end of the Edo period, it had exported to the UK in large quantities.
Gifu Prefecture is a producing region of “Mino tea”.
It is characterized by the rich aroma and taste of green tea grown in the blessed environment with many 3,000 meter high mountains.
Today, two major brands are sold: “Mino-Ibi tea” in the west Mino area and “Mino-Shirakawa tea” in the central Mino area.