When it comes to ranking the world’s largest tea producers, Japan is not in the running and probably never will be. The laurels in this department go to such mega-producers as China and India, as well as a number of lesser luminaries.
What Japan is noted for is producing what are arguably some of the world’s best green teas. It should also be pointed out that green tea is pretty much the only type grown in Japan in any significant quantity. Some of the most notable of these green tea varieties are sencha, shincha, matcha and gyokuro.
If you’ve been drinking Japanese green tea long enough, you’ve probably run across the name Shizuoka. A prefecture in the central coastal region of Japan, Shizuoka claims to account for more than 40 percent of Japan’s total green tea production and about 60 percent of its distribution. The region proudly refers to itself as “The Kingdom of Green Tea” and points out that green tea production there dates all the way back to the thirteenth century, at a point in time when tea was supposedly introduced there from its birthplace in China.
For more on Shizuoka, refer to Taking A Tea Break in Shizuoka, an interesting article that appeared some time back in the Japan Times. Among the many moments it recounts are a visit to a restaurant where many of the dishes utilize tea in one form or another. For a better idea of what Shizuoka’s tea farms look like, head on over to Mellow Monk’s blog and check out a slideshow of photos by John Lander. In another post, Mellow Monk also expounded on what it means when green tea bears the label “Shizuoka Tea.”