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Is your green tea safe from radiation?

The March 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear tragedy in Japan continues to be an ongoing struggle for many people. As someone who has several Japanese friends, it was particularly difficult to watch events unfold. Not knowing if they were safe for the first several days as lines of communication had been affected by the chaos – was especially hard. Fortunately all of my friends’ lives were spared, but I continue to worry about their safety of living in areas affected by the radiation fall out.

While radiation can be tested for, not everyone carries a geiger counter on them at all times. So its difficult to know if the food they are eating has been affected. And it may be years before we know the true impact of the fallout. Japan has long been known for producing some of the finest teas in the world. But people are now concerned about purchasing green tea that was grown in Japan.  To the extent that the price of green tea worldwide has been climbing since the Fukushima reactor disaster.

While EatGreenTea products do not come from Japan, I do have Japanese friends in the tea business. They have explained that some farms are no longer allowed to sell their tea b/c the government has deemed the crops to be unsafe. While this clearly has a devastating affect on the farmers’ livelihoods, these actions to protect the public should be applauded in my opinion.

Other farms are only allowed to sell a percentage of their crop. This strategy seems a bit puzzling. Its almost as if this some kind of compromise that says “Your crop is dangerous, but not as dangerous as some places – so we’ll still let you SOME of your green tea.”

I’m not suggesting that all Japanese tea is unsafe, or should be avoided. There are certainly large portions of the country that have been completely unaffected by radiation. PLUS – and this is particularly troubling – there are reports that some of the tainted green tea from Japan is being exported to other countries first, repackaged, and then shipped to America with a different country of origin – so as not to raise the suspicions of our health officials.

I think the bottom line is to make sure that wherever you are buying your tea from – to make sure that they are testing their product for purity. Its the only way to know for sure that you are getting the best quality tea possible.