- A Free Tool -
Japan's National Tea Competition Area Award Analyzer (Maniac)
To all you Japanese Tea enthusiasts! A free tool to analyze the results of the "Area Award" winners of Japan's National Tea Competition!
Area Award Analyzer
While the award that creates the most buzz in the National Tea Competition of Japan would always be the MAFF Award and all the other individual awards, I would argue that for "normal" tea-lovers like us, the most important is to follow the "Area Awards".
The "Area Awards" are a team effort. It recognizes the town or city which had the most number of quality tea in that category for that year.
This may be driven by a few factors.
- It may be the climate and the rainfall of the area helping (or not helping) the quality of the tea on that particular year.
- It may be that the overall manufacturing skills and operations are increasing in standards within that area.
Either way, it means that there are multiple excellent quality tea produced in that area. If you're looking for the highest of quality teas, looking for teas in the winning area may be a good strategy.
Now the caveat here is, you shouldn't discount the tea produced in other areas.
For example the Sayama-cha will not even enter in the National Tea Competition. Their production climate is not ideal, however compensates with a unique firing technique to give it a different taste and enjoyability. They are regarded one of the 3 great teas of Japan.
For example the Kaga-Boucha is also very famous, but will not enter either. There is no category for Houjicha, and even if there is, usually the Kaga-Boucha will procure the tea from other areas. This is also a fantastic tea.
While the area awards are definitely an indicator, it shouldn't be the sole indicator of your tea choice. There are many, many great teas out there, which are all worth a try!
Research an area using the Area Award Analyzer
Let's say you're travelling Kyoto. And would like to know what type of tea you might want to look for. Kyoto is known for "Ujicha", but what exactly are they famous for? This may be where this tool can come in handy.
Click on the prefecture you like to research. In this case, it will be Kyoto. The "59" indicates the amount of Area awards handed out to Kyoto in the 9 year span from 2012 to 2020. There are 3 area awards (No1 through No3) for each of the 8 categories of Japanese tea.
By doing so, the other graphs will be refresh to indicate their results based on "Kyoto. The graph on the right shows the cities and towns under Kyoto which has received the award. You can find that Kyotanabeshi won the most amount of Area awards within this span. Ujishi coming second.
Down below, you can see which city within Kyoto was awarded the award in which Category. This is a very helpful graph to understand the strengths of that area.
Kyoto has received many awards for the shaded leaf categories, especially the Tencha (or Matcha), Gyokuro and Kabuse-cha. If you're in Kyoto, you might want to look for the shaded leaf teas.
You can notice that you won't find some of the other categories here, such as Fukamushi-sencha, Mushisei-Tamaryokucha, or the Kamairicha.
The following graph takes it one step further, and shows which city won the award when.
Research a category using the Area Analyzer
You can analyze which areas are stronger for a certain type of tea as well. Let's take an example, and analyze which areas might be a great choice for buying Matcha.
In this case, please select the type of tea category as the image below. Here we'll be selecting Tencha. Tencha is the crude tea made for making Matcha.
You'll find the graphs update again.
Here you can find that out of the 28 Area awards given in the last 9 years, only 3 prefectures has won. 25 of them - which accounts for most - goes to Kyoto. No wonder the Uji Matcha is so famous.
On the chart to the right, you can also find the breakdown of the area. Ujishi and Jyouyoushi, followed by Kyotanabeshi seems to produce excellent quality Matcha.
In the city/town yearly trend chart, you can find that basically the Ujishi and Jyouyoushi are a lock for the award.
Hope the tool is useful, and please suggest any additional analytical capabilities which may be good to be incorporated in this tool!