KYOTO – Confronted with slumping domestic consumption, producers of high-quality Uji green tea and the Kyoto Prefectural Government are working together to make a sales pitch abroad.
As part of their overseas campaign, they invited a group of about 40 French entrepreneurs and journalists to a full-course dinner of foie gras and other dishes infused with Uji tea at a posh Paris hotel in November.
The Kyoto government organized the banquet prepared by a three-star chef for the guests — members of an Uji tea fan club — to promote the tea’s high quality and long history. Uji, in southern part of Kyoto Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most famous tea-growing areas.
According to the Japanese Association of Tea Production, domestic consumption of green tea fell to about 78,000 tons in 2015 from around 116,000 tons in 2004. This is the result of the increasing popularity of coffee and diversified consumer tastes.
During the Paris event, officials from the Kyoto government said, the French guests asked about tea production methods, how best to enjoy the prized tea brand and even requested guided tours of tea plantations.
A separate Uji tea-tasting event in Paris was so popular that the prefectural government plans to invite members of the fan club to tea farms and conduct similar promotional campaigns in the United States and Middle East.
Chotaro Horii, head of the Kyoto Tea Cooperative who participated in the Paris dinner, said, “Many tea producers are depressed because of slumping consumption. By gaining global recognition for Uji tea, we want Japanese people to rediscover its quality.”