Tea in Nagasaki, the origin of Japanese tea.
If you ask most Japanese people about it, they will probably say they don’t know anything about it.
However, Nagasaki is a very important place in the history of tea.
It is said that tea was first introduced to Japan in 1191, when the Zen monk Eisai returned from China and brought back tea seeds.
The place where Eisai returned from China is now Hirado City in Nagasaki Prefecture, where he opened Japan’s first Zen hermitage and tea plantation. The tea he introduced was matcha (powdered green tea), and he later wrote the first book on tea in Japan, “Tea and Health”.
Today, tea is drunk all over the world. In 1610, a Dutch merchant bought tea in Hirado, Nagasaki, and brought it back to Europe, where it became a popular drink. Tea production also started in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.
Also, 150 years ago, when Japan woke up from its isolation, the first export of Japanese tea was to Nagasaki. At its peak, 75% of Japanese tea was exported.
Japan’s oldest tea plantation, the origin of tea that spread around the world, and the starting point for the export of Japanese tea after the opening of Japan to the outside world, all started in Nagasaki.
Unfortunately, very little is known about any one of them.
Tea in Nagasaki Today
Today, 70% of Japanese tea is produced in Shizuoka and Kagoshima prefectures. Also, the center of tea culture, including the tea ceremony, is in Kyoto.
Nagasaki produces 700 tons of tea annually. The total tea production in Japan is about 80,000 tons, which is about 1% of the national total, making it the 11th largest tea producer in Japan.
Characteristics of Tea in Nagasaki
Nagasaki’s tea is characterized by its jade green tea. Almost all of the tea produced in Nagasaki is jade green tea.
For the past 30 years or so, most of the tea has been produced using the steaming method, but before that, most of the tea was produced using the kama-roasting method.
Tea Production Areas in Nagasaki
Tea production areas in Nagasaki are spread throughout the prefecture.
The main production areas are Sechibara, Sasa, Shimabara, Saikai and Higashisonogi.
Forty percent of the tea produced in Nagasaki Prefecture is produced in Higashisonogi Town.
The Future of Tea in Nagasaki
As for the future of tea in Nagasaki, first of all, there is the production of Tencha (raw material for Matcha), which started in 2018; Matcha was introduced to Nagasaki over 800 years ago, but its production has since been discontinued.
However, in recent years, with the global popularity of matcha, the production of matcha has started (and restarted) here in Nagasaki.
After 800 years, a new challenge has begun.