I can't quite put my finger on why but 2018 has been an incredible year for The Steepery Tea Co. We are moving into our third year of being in the tea business, continuing to learn and evolve, and feel that this year has been pivotal in so many ways. Without a doubt, the highlight was being awarded the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Japanese Tea Export Council (JTEC) tea study tour to Japan visiting Shizouka and Kagoshima prefectures.
Today I wanted to share some images and highlights. And if you are interested I might follow up with some subsequent posts about Japan. I have so much to share, almost too much, that it makes writing about it very difficult.
The tea book in the featured image is a special one "All about Japan Tea". We were advised that this book is something that the Japan Tea Export Council has spent 10 years bringing to life. Acknowledging that this is the first edition of the translated materials disseminated through the Nihoncha instructor program it heartens me to think that this is the start of access and an open dialogue allowing and trusting foreigners to really learn and appreciate Japanese tea. I feel that this level and depth of tea knowledge is critical and not easily accessible outside of origin and rarely (if at all) in English. I feel very honoured to have been gifted this book as copies will not be made available for purchase.
I also found the opportunity to travel with a group of tea practitioners from an incredibly diverse range of tea backgrounds enhanced this experience. Not only were we able to share in the learnings and new discoveries made during the tour but it was wonderful to be able to talk about tea trends, industry and localised challenges and experiences. And the recurring theme this year for me is that the tea community is actually quite small with a number of common tea friends being connected in some way.
In Shizuoka, we had the opportunity to visit a grower. I was so fortunate to visit a family-run organic tea farm near Hamamatsu who were so kind and hospitable. We were even treated with fresh tea leaf tempura and I have to say it was absolutely delicious.
Overall I walked away with a strong desire to advocate for Japanese tea. There is so much to still learn and discover about this region but it particularly appealed to me as there was a real sense of tea innovation and exciting things to come from Japan.
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