Making Uji Tea a Worldwide Top BrandKyoto Prefectural Government "Adds Prestige" to Uji Tea in Paris
The Kyoto Prefectural Government and tea industry-related organizations in the prefecture have launched a project to promote "Uji tea" as one of the world's top brands. In Paris, France, senior prefectural government officials and representatives of tea industry organizations conducted promotional activities, and founded "l'Association du thé Uji," or the Association of Uji tea, with people from the business community, academic community and restaurant industry in Paris.
As competition between green tea-growing regions intensifies, their strategy is to enhance the premium feel of Uji tea by establishing it as the first-class tea brand in the forefront of European vogue. The project's future vision is for "Uji tea" to be listed as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Japan's green tea production has leveled off due to changes in diet and the aging of farmers. The amount of crude tea production across Japan is approximately 76,000 tons, which is roughly 20 percent lower than 30 years ago. On the other hand, demand for matcha is increasing because of the popularity of matcha sweets. Each green tea-growing region is working on branding projects. For example, the quality of "Yamecha tea" in Fukuoka Prefecture and Kagoshima green tea are guaranteed through the establishment of uniform criteria for cultivation and quality inspections by chambers of the tea industry.
Takeharu Jofuku, vice-governor of Kyoto Prefecture, Riichi Yoshida, chairman of a tea production council in Kyoto Prefecture and Chotaro Horii, president of Kyoto Tea Cooperative, visited France in late-November. They explained the history of Uji tea and how to make Gyokuro, or refined green tea, and matcha tea to more than 150 people, including restauranteurs and chefs in Paris. The Association of Uji Tea was founded in Paris with approximately 40 members, among which are Jean-Robert Pitte, former president of Paris-Sorbonne University, who assisted with the induction of Japanese cuisine onto the Intangible Cultural Heritage list, as well as the executive CEO of the luxury band "Hermes," executive officers of fancy confectioners, chief editors of restaurant guides, and others. At the inauguration ceremony, Pitte made a laudatory statement, saying, "Uji tea deserves to be a World Cultural Heritage."
Kyoto's Vice-governor Jofuku said, "Parisians liked it more than we expected. We would like to aim for Uji tea products to be a luxury brand that can be sold even for ten times the price of products from other regions."
In addition to high interest in Japanese culture in Paris, Parisians greatly value the differences between production areas, as can be seen with wine. Kyoto Prefectural Government will provide the latest information to the association, and recommends that high-class restaurants in Paris include Uji tea on their menus, and that luxury brands adopt images of Uji tea. If realized, these achievements will be publicized in Japan in collaboration with the event "Kyoto of Tea" held in southern Kyoto Prefecture, which aims to differentiate Uji tea from the other regions' products with the "added prestige" of a premium brand recognized in Paris.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)