With all the media coverage breeding panic in the public for all things Japanese, I thought it would be appropriate to address any safety concerns with Japanese green teas.
As most folks know, there are many health concerns regarding some of the food and water in the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. There is little doubt that the vast majority of these concerns are legitimate and extremely serious. However, this is not the case for all Japanese products, and I feel it is necessary to clear the air about the growing number of emails we’ve been receiving regarding the safety of our (and most other) Japanese teas.
As you can see from this New York Times map, much of the radiation was blown out to sea, not spread across their country. The regions of Ibaraki and Saitama in the northern part of the country are the most vulnerable, as they are in the immediate vicinity of the power plant. It is definitely true that no food, food product or water should be ingested from these areas, as they have been unmistakably shown to have unhealthy levels of Iodine-131 and Cesium-137.
But the vast majority of the Japanese tea growing regions, where we and most US tea companies get their teas from, come from the southern part of the country – anywhere from 750-1000 miles away- are in no serious danger of radiation.
However, the most compelling argument for the safety of Japanese teas being sold in the US right now is that the vast majority has been in the country since before the earthquake which caused the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. I can say this with a reasonable sense of certainty, as the first harvest of 2011 Japanese teas will not even begin for at least another couple weeks.
This being said, we will, of course, continue to be vigilant to be sure that any tea that we sell is as safe (and healthy) as we say it is!