The Tea Competition in Japan requires the support of many people working together. It sustains the tea industry, because the purpose of the tea competition is to improve Japanese tea agricultural and manufacturing techniques.
It requires organizational strength, steering strength, judging technical strength, and so on at a high level to convene the tea competition every year. From 600 to 1000 teas are contributed, and the first place tea in each category: Gyokuro, Sencha, and Matcha, wins the award of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. To ensure a successful tea competition, about 1000 teas should be contributed and 80 to 100 expertise personnel should be involved.
Large numbers of teas are typically contributed to the competition during an economic boom because the competition teas are bid at relatively high prices and farmers can recover the costs and labors to grow competition tea. However, during an economic depression, most competition teas except only the awarded teas are bid at relatively low prices and farmers can’t recover the costs and labors. At that time, the secretariat strives to encourage farmers to increase the number of teas contributed to the competition. The tea competition is an important activity to raise the level of agricultural and manufacturing techniques throughout Japan.
About 20 Judges are called away from the tea research laboratory organized within the farm ministry, and major tea merchants who all evaluate several thousand teas every year to improve defects on cultivating and processing, or to bid. Judging tea is the most important job governing their principal occupations. So, their judging technical strengths have been continuously kept at an amazingly high level.
Number of administrative support personnel range from 60 to 80 people, who are mainly called away from agricultural cooperatives, the tea research laboratory, and tea industry association.
Needless to say, all competition teas should be judged under quite equal conditions. It is not easy at all but requires much time and effort. Once contributed, the teas should be strictly preserved in order not to deteriorate. And at examining meeting, for example, over 100 contributed teas at one category should be extracted in the same condition, with the same water temperature, same amount of water, same amount of tea leaves (and same content rate of specks and tiny tea leaves), for the same brewing time. All tea should be deftly and properly extracted in a short time. Even if there is just a small difference in each extracting condition, the flavor or tea color can’t be judged fairly.
To handle and to prepare all competition tea properly, every procedure and every step are clearly standardized. And all of the administrative support personnel should become adept at the procedures, and strictly conduct each step. To do that, huge organizational strength as well as steering strength is required.
Examination criteria for the tea competition should be modified and improved over time. Factory automation has found its way into tea agriculture. In contrast, traditional agricultural and processing techniques should be preserved. So the examination criteria must include both the traditional and the modern. And each production center seems to want to alter the examination criteria in their own favor. So, the improvement of the examination criteria is not always easy.