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The 74th National Tea Competition of Japan is just around the corner!

The 74th National Tea Competition of Japan is just around the corner!

Posted by yuki on 20th Aug 2020

The most exciting time of the year for Japanese tea-lovers is of course the Shincha season. This is when the plucking of the fresh leaves for the first harvest of the year takes place. That's already in the rear view mirror.

I would say that end of August may be arguably the 2nd most exciting time of the year in the tea-calendar year.

Why? - it's because it's when the National Tea Competition will be held each year!

The 74th National Tea Competition of Japan is just around the corner!

What's The National Tea Competition of Japan?

The National Tea Competition of Japan (Zenkoku Cha Hinpyoukai) is the most prestigious competition of tea in Japan. This is where the best tea in Japan of that year is decided, and is crowned the MAFF award (The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery award).

While checking out the "number one tea in Japan" is exciting, what excites me more are the Area awards.

Area awards are awards that are given to the area with the best tea. It's not an individual award, but rather a team award. It's given to the Area with the most number of high-ranking teas of that year.

To me, this helps me answer a very important question..

Q: So, where should I buy my tea this year?

Not all the time you'll be buying the best tea of Japan. Honestly - that's too expensive! It's not for the every-day tea.

That's why it's important to go for the high "overall average quality" of that year. Each production area has it's advantages and disadvantages with their different climate conditions. The Area award allows us to understand which area had the best condition to make tea that year.

The objective of the National Tea Competition is the progression of the tea industry, and the improvement of the skills of the Japanese tea producers. This makes it a very unbiased and reliable source of information.

Read here for a comprehensive coverage about the National Tea Competition. I've done a summary and translation of last year's results here.


74th Competition Details (2020)

Yes, the caveat remains. Due to the Corona virus pandemic, there may be changes in the plans. If there are no changes, it will proceed as follows.

Dates: August 25 (Tues) - August 28 (Fri)
Address: Kagoshima City, Kagoshima
Venue: Kagoshima Cha Ryutsu Center

The tea competition this year goes back for the first time since 2017 to the land of Kyushu island. The Kagoshima prefecture boasts the 2nd highest production of tea in Japan, while Miniamikyushu-City (where the award ceremony will take place) boasts the highest output of tea as a city in Japan.

There will be additional passion and effort coming from the Kagoshima and nearby farms. Will be interesting to see how the likes of Chiran-cha (Area brand of the Southern Kagoshima Area) and Kagoshima-cha will be able to get the awards.

Once the results come in, we'll cover as well. Stay tuned!

Top 3 Storylines of the 74th competition

1. Will the dominant continue their dominance?

There are the greats - the immovable rocks - the Michael Phelps and the Michael Jordans of the Japanese tea world - who we just expect will win. Amid this pandemic, will the areas continue their dominance, or will there be new areas making their case?

Based on the past 8 competition results:

2. How will Kagoshima-cha Fare?

There always seem to be a home-court advantage. Maybe it's just the amount of effort spent on the tea changes when you know you're hosting the competition. But either way, watch out for the Kagoshima produced tea to take many awards!

One safe bet may be the Futsu-Sencha 10kg category. This category is restricted to machine plucking of the leaves. When it comes to this, Kagoshima has the advantage as it's vast level fields allows for automation too advance. Let's see how Kagoshima can get this award again!

Notable areas in Kagoshima: *Award information is based on past 8 competition results.

  • Minamikyushu City, Kagoshima
    • Producer of Chiran-cha. The highest output of tea in Japan
    • Won Futsu-Sencha 10kg #1 Area Award 3 times
  • Kirishima City, Kagoshima
    • Won Futsu-Sencha 10kg #1 Area Award 5 times

3. Ujicha for Gyokuro!?

Personally - I just feel this year's Ujicha has great Gyokuro.

Not sure if this is winning material - but I think that this year Ujicha has a chance in breaking into this area which Yamecha had absolutely dominated for so long.

Wow - I really can't control the excitement!

Anyways, we'll keep you posted on the progress and results. Stay tuned!

About the Author: Yuki

Yuki is a Japanese tea enthusiast living in Singapore. He takes a few hours each week sharing about his passion to locals and also helping Tealife SG. Still a beginner in writing, it requires him about 10 cups of tea before finishing a post. His day job is in the healthcare IT domain.