In 2009, we participated in Japan Foodex for the first time, although our first contact dates as far back as 1986 when young Nobuyasu Muira of Mitsui Norin visited the Seeyok Tea Estate and we started picking up the threads of marketing there.
Japan has always intrigued me. As a child, I concocted a language in which I replaced each of the 26 English letters with Kanji characters and wrote a secret diary using those characters. Later, in the 1980s, Bangladesh TV enticed me with Samurai serials. Then came Nittoh canned green tea and ultimately Darjeeling first flush for Japan. Selling tea in yen was a thrill and 1,200 was a high figure for a kilo of fannings.
In 2010, we visited the Shizuoka tea area and Tatsuo Sano took me to various tea plantations and to the tea-processing factories of the Sugimoto and Marumatsu Tea Companies. The World Tea Museum in Shimada, the Gyokuro House in Okabe, and Maejima Tohe, a Gyokuro Sensei, made a particular impression on me – showing me the ancient tea culture of Japan.
Last year, I came across Matsu of Obubu Tea Farms in Kyoto during Foodex and he recognized his friend Dan in a photo in my Secrets of Tea booklet, which started yet another bond that was further strengthened at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, where he saw the teas of the Doke Tea Farm in Bihar.
On March 11, 2011, a tsunami wreaked havoc on Japan. Matsu led a Tohoku tea caravan to the affected areas last month and our teas were presented there to lift the spirits of those facing severe winters in makeshift dwellings. We became the proud members of International Tea Farms Alliance (ITFA) and plan to attend Foodex 2012 from their Booth No. 8E17.
On March 10 and 11, we will attend the World Tea Farms Festival in Wazuka, Kyoto and review their tea university. We wish to spread the word about this festival through T Ching. Mr. Hara, whom I first met in China few years ago, has been the driving force behind us searching for just the right tea with anti-aging benefits. Japan historically has been a land where immortality was always searched for and we hope to find the secret formula soon through our teas.