• Japanese tea we don’t want to lose

    Japanese tea we don’t want to lose – 失いたくない日本のお茶

    [Spotlights – March 2024 Issue]

    The origins of tea culture in Japan can be traced back to the early Heian period (around the 9th century). It is believed to have begun when the Buddhist monk Saicho returned with a handful of tea seeds from China and planted them at the base of Mount Hiei.


    Initially a luxury item, tea eventually found its way into the everyday life of the common people. In the 16th century, Sen no Rikyu formalized the tea ceremony, marking a significant evolution in its cultural status. The arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 sparked an increase in tea exports, elevating tea to a globally recognized emblem of Japan’s exquisite culture.


    Currently, Japan is home to over 100 varieties of Japanese tea. However, amidst these, some are facing the threat of extinction due to a shortage of producers and evolving production environments. These are ‘endangered teas’.


    CLASS EARTH Inc., is working to protect endangered traditional Japanese teas as part of a project aimed at restoring biodiversity. In January 2024, the company began selling Wakayama Prefecture’s “Kama-iribancha”, Toyama Prefecture’s “Batabatacha” tea, and Ehime Prefecture’s “Ishizuchi Kurocha” as its first endangered tea products. All teas have a rich individual taste and are produced using traditional methods in each region. Part of the proceeds from selling these teas will be donated to WWF Japan, an environmental conservation organization.

    CLASS EARTH株式会社は、生物多様性の回復を目的とした事業の一環として、絶滅の危機にある日本の伝統茶を守る活動をしています。2024年1月には、絶滅危惧茶の第一弾として和歌山県「釜炒り番茶」、富山県「バタバタ茶」、愛媛県「石鎚黒茶[いしづちくろちゃ]」の販売を開始。いずれも各地の伝統的な製法で作られる個性豊かな味わいのお茶です。これらの売上の一部は、環境保全団体のWWFジャパンに寄付されます。

    The packaging of the endangered tea depicts a bonsai tree. The bonsai, which can live a long and beautiful life with human care, was used to express the wish for the survival and prosperity of endangered tea.


    The tea produced in each region symbolizes the nature and culture of the region and the history of the people who live there – a cup of tea may allow us to think about environmental issues and the planet’s future and raise awareness of sustainable living.



    Text: SAWAGUCHI Natsuki


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