Saturday, December 20, 2008

Freezing Seattle

Holiday season is coming soon, but... what is this weather? Since the last week, Seattle has had snow storm. All flights in and out of Seattle have been canceled, and my friend has been stuck in Las Vegas. I have a lot of things to do in my office, but icy roads and heavy snow don't allow me to go out.

However, since I grew up in Shizuoka-prefecture, where rarely has snow, this snow storm is sort of exciting for me. I have never seen this much of snow falling from sky and roads covering by pure white. Also, this snow storm gave me a precious time. I'm staying at home, drinking my favorite Sen cha, and quietly seeing beautiful snow. (Of course, I'm doing some works in my home. But not that much.) During busy days, I haven't had much time to look out of window and thought how beautiful the nature is.

I do have to go to the office next week by any means, but now I'd like to enjoy this slow time and relax myself. At the end, I hope you all have happy and peaceful holiday with your family, friends, and loved ones.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Healthy Gift Recommendation

Holiday season is coming soon! Are you looking for healthy gift idea for your loved ones? We have an excellent suggestion.

"Healthy Green Tea Gift"

It surely pleases tea lovers of any ages. In Japan, we have a variety of gift-giving occasions, and green tea is one of the most major gift for any generation. Today, a lot of people in the U.S. recognize health benefits green tea offers and start drinking green tea. This is the best timing to ask your loved ones to start healthy life. The following is our suggestion for you.

Gift set of 3 varieties of traditional Japanese green tea leaves
Set of Sen cha, Hoji cha, and Genmai cha tea leaves. If your friends or family are tea lovers who have tea pots, this tea leaves gift will be the perfect gift for them.

Gift set of 3 varieties of traditional Japanese green tea TeaPac
If your friends or family just start drinking green tea for their health, this TeaPac gift will be the perfect gift for them.

TOKONAME Tea Pot "Cherry Blossom"
Not so many people have a traditional tea pot specially design for Japanese green tea. This will be very special gift not only for the person who just start drinking green tea, but for the person enjoying tea daily.

There are a lot more healthy gifts suggested in our website. Choose the best gift for your family, friends, and loved ones and spend healthy holiday season.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Northwest Tea Festival 2008

Northwest Tea Festival was held for the first time ever to provide Northwest people with educational opportunities regarding to a variety of teas. I'm very proud that we could participate to the event as a representative of Japanese green tea companies. In spite of bad weather, there were so many visitors; one of the organizers said the number of visitors was more than double of what they had expected. I'm very happy that there are so many tea fans in this Northwest area.

This event was established to provide people with information or education regarding to teas from all over the world, not for business purpose. On the 1st day, I had a presentation about Japanese green tea and was so surprised that many people were very knowledgeable about teas. During my presentation, some of the audience asked me questions, and their questions were very sophisticated.

This event gave me a special encounter with Mr. James Norwood Pratt, who was one of the judges of World Tea Championship. Because we displaied the torophy of the World Tea Championship, he told us he was one of the judges. I had a great time to talk with him.

JapanFest Atlanta 2008

This was our first time to participate to the JapanFest Atlanta, and I was so surprised that so many people were interested in Japanese culture and visited to the event. In Seattle, we have similar Japanese cultural events such as Cherry Blossom Festival and Aki Matsuri (Autumn Festival), but JapanFest Atlanta was much much bigger than these events. In addition, people in Atlanta were facing to the gasoline shortage, and many of gasoline stations closed during the event. In spite of the unusual situation, more than 14,000 people visited from not only Georgia state, but also from other neighbor states.

In 2nd day, I had a 30-minute presentation about "How to enjoy the Japanese green tea." I hadn't expected so many people came to listen to my presentation. I was very happy and excited more and more people in the U.S. started drinking green tea and study about the tea. I hope my presentation could provide the audience with a little bit ideas of enjoyment of Japanese green tea.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Coffee Fest Seattle 2008

Coffee Fest Seattle was held at Washington Convention Center from September 12 to 14. We, SA Japanese Green Tea, had a booth and introduced traditional Japanese green tea.

Because the main focus of this show was COFFEE, there were many coffee companies and we were one of a few companies exhibiting only teas. We provide people with free samples of iced green tea, and all of our teas received many positive comments and feedback from potential customers. Especially, many people liked our Genmai cha. During the show, we came to be much confident that our teas would be liked by American consumers.

At the show, there was "latte art championship." And most impressively, the winner was Japanese barista, Hiroshi Sawada!!!! There were many American baristas competing in the championship, and I'm very proud of him as Japanese. Congratulation Hiroshi!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seattle Gift Show 2008

Seattle Gift Show 08 was held from September 16 to 19. This was our first time to exhibit for any gift show, so there were many things we could discovered at the show. How to display products effectively or how to behave at the booth so that we can get attention from attendees. These questions were always in my mind during the show.

The most impressive thing was how other exhibitors established relationship with their customers. Because many of exhibitors have participated this show for many years, there were a lot of attendees who just came to see their favorite companies' products. For example, McSteven's Inc. They just sold cocoa or hot chocolate, but I was so surprised when I saw many customers made a line and were waiting to be helped. WHY? They said " this is our back yard, we have come this show for many many years."

I decide to participate the Seattle Gift Show next year, too. And I hope my company can establish good and solid relationship with customers, just like McSteven's.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tea Tasting at I Love Sushi Restaurant

Since the beginning of July, I have been doing the free tea sampling event at the I Love Sushi at Lake Bellevue in Washington state. Every Monday and Wednesday, I go to the restaurant from 6pm and serve 3 kinds of tea samples - Sen cha, Hoji cha, and Genmai cha.

During summer, I'm serving iced green teas, and customers really love their refreshing taste. Especially, iced Genmai cha has received a lot of compliments (Genmai cha is the one selected as the best tea at the World Tea Championship). If you are interested in trying our teas, please visit I Love Sushi Lake Bellevue.

At the end, I'd like to mention about I Love Sushi. Honestly, I Love Sushi is really nice restaurant. It has a wide menu variety and abundant of alcohol selection. Outside view is nice as well. Most importantly, their passion for quality cuisine and customer service is great. If you would like to experience the real Japanese culinary, I strongly recommend I LOVE SUSHI.

For more information about the tea sampling event or I Love Sushi, please visit;

Friday, June 27, 2008

Intangible National Treasure - TEMOMI

If you would like to try the ancient taste of teas, "Temomi-cha" tea is your choice. Temomi means "hand kneading," and cha means "tea" in Japanese. In short, Temomi-cha can be said that is the 100% hand-made green tea. Its taste and flavor are completely different from teas now we are drinking; it has really deep taste and green flavor. When the Sen cha was invented about 300 years ago, all the process to make the tea was taken by humans' hands. It started from hand pick of tea leaves, and then steaming, kneading, and drying process were performed only by hands. Today, all of these processes are mechanized and the Temomi-technique is almost forgotten.

My mother has striven to preserve the Temomi-technique since 1995. Right now, she has a teaching license and has held the Temomi-cha event for public since 2005. The pictures above are the Temomi-cha event held on May 2008 at my father's factory. I was very sad that I couldn't participate the event this year because I wan in the U.S.

In near future, I'm going to import the Temomi-cha into the U.S. I'd like to have a chance to introduce the Temomi-cha to American audience.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Best Blended/Flavored Green Tea!

May 30th late afternoon, the winners of the World Tea Championship was announced. And... our Genmai cha was selected as the best tea in the Blended/Flavored Green Tea Category!

Right now, almost all American people know "green tea is good for health" and demands for green tea products are very high. That encourages many tea companies to invent a new blend of green tea to meet the American customers preference. Mint green tea. Ginger green tea. Lemon green tea... There are hundreds of new-blend green teas in the U.S. market.

This time, many of these new-blend green teas competed in the World Tea Championship. And what I was impressed was Genmai cha, which has 70-year history in Japan, was recognized as the best tea among them. I'm really happy with this result, but more importantly I realized how special the Japanese culture and history was.

Monday, May 19, 2008

World Tea Championship!

At the World Tea Expo (5/30/08 - 6/1/08), a tea-quality contest called World Tea Championship will be held, and there was a preliminary because over 200 entries were submitted from over 30 companies. And, our teas were nominated one of the top 5 teas in Japanese Style Green Tea and Blended/Flavored Green Tea Category!

Our Sen cha and Hoji cha are two of the five finalists in the Japanese Style Green Tea Category, and Genmai cha is one of the five finalists in the Blended/Flavored Green Tea Category. The winner will be announced at the World Tea Expo.

This was not easy decision for me to participate to the contest because our teas have already received many awards in Japan. If we couldn't been selected as the finalists, what does it mean? It makes our reputation and the brand image down. Right now, I'm glad that our tea was at least selected as the finalists. Hope we will win the contest and bring the trophy back to Seattle!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Japanese Tea Adviser Certificate

Finally, I received a certificate of Nihoncha (Japanese Tea) Adviser last month. After I decided to be involved in the tea business in 2003, I started studying about Japanese green tea. Although I was born as the second son of Tea Maestro SUGIMOTO and spent a lot of time in his tea factory, there was a tons of things I didn't know, and it took a long time to learn all of them.

The most impressive thing for me is there are still many unknown things about tea, not only Japanese tea, because the tea has very long history. Where did a tea plant originally come from? Who was the first person drink the tea? Who brought the tea plants to Japan? When was that? These are just a few examples.

Right now, many people start recognizing about health benefits of green tea, but it's just recent that these health benefits have been found. In 2006, there were over 1,000 of studies focusing on the relationship between health and green tea consumption, and now, many studies are still in progress all over the world. I believe more and more health benefits will be found in the future, and green tea will be recognized as the healthiest beverage throughout the world.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Season of SAKURA

Japanese people have special place in their heart for cherry blossom (SAKURA). The flower is very beautiful but fugacious, and we, Japanese, identify our own lives with the life of the cherry blossom. Also, the cherry blossom season is April which all of schools and companies start their new year in Japan. Because of this, cherry blossom is the symbol of a new start of life.

In Japan, we have very nice culture called "OHANAMI." People drink alcohol under the tree of cherry blossom and have party with family, friends, or colleagues. During the season, people go outside with favorite alcohol, drink a lot, and get drunk like crazy. At the famous park in Tokyo, you can see hundreds of drunken people dancing under the tree.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Busiest Season is comming!

For tea producers in Japan, new harvest season after the winter starts from the end of April. Now, farmers are waiting for their tea leaves get matured enough; once the leaves get matured, the harvest starts. They wake up 4 o'clock everyday and work until late night. The reason they have to work such a long time is because they have to finish the harvest before the leaves get hardened. Also in Japan, consumers' demand for Shin-cha (new harvest tea) is very high, and it makes the tea producers much busier.

Even if I have to work like crazy, I like this season. My town is enveloped in the flavor of steaming tea leaves (because in Shizuoka prefecture, there are thousands of tea farmers, and they start the harvest at the same time). Flavor of tea leaves give me energy and let me relax after the work. If you have chance, I recommend to visit there during the season.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Go Mariners!

Finally, Major Leage was back! Yesterday was the day I had waited for 6 months. Go Mariners!

Eric Bedard was struggled yesterday, but nice patient! You should be good next game. Today is our young hero, Felix Hernandez. He will duplicate the Opening Day of 2007.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I don't compromise on the product quality

In business world, we cannot compromise the quality of products. Even a small mistake, it shouldn't be accept. Cultural differences don't matter, it's always the same even in Japan and the U.S. Since I was born and raised in Japan, I might be too sensitive and nervous in terms of the products' quality? I don't think so.

This was my first time to do business with California based box-design and manufacturing company and had big troubles and disappointment with them. The manufacturing turn over was supporsed to be 3 and half weeks, but it took 7 weeks until I received my order. During the manufacturing, they had sent some box samples, but these samples always had defective. Everytime, I told them about the mistakes on the samples, and they fixed and said there are no more problems. Finally, I received my order last week, and... there was big vocabrary mistake. How can they make such a mistake?

I feel sorry that the company has to re-manifacture my order, but I don't compromise on the product quality. It's my promise to my customers.

Friday, March 14, 2008

How nice metro is!

Every time I went to Seattle downtown, parking was headache for me. Street parking was very hard to find, and public parking was expensive.

Today, I found excellent transportation - METRO!! I used to use the metro when I didn't have a car, but since I bought my car, the metro has been quite away from my life. This afternoon, I went to DAISO (DAISO is excellent as well) in the West Lake Center. I used the metro from my office in the International district. I didn't know West Lake Center was only three station away from my office and amazingly it was FREE! How convenient it is.

From next time, I will park my car at my office and use the metro for sure. Let's see how much I can save for this.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tea Addict? ...good for you

This picture is one of our hardest-working employees. He always stay my side, meet my thirsty, let me awake and relax, and support my healthy life. He has never complained to me.

I think I'm sort of tea addict (it might be my occupational disease). I start everyday with hot morning tea and drink more than 10 cups of tea a day. Do you think it's not good for my health because of too much Caffeine? Actually, some studies show that Caffeine has good influence to our body - shaking off the drowsiness, preventing obesity, or diuretic action. Standard of daily value alters depending on countries, but in Japan it's about 250mg, and one cup of tea has less than 20mg of Caffeine. That means... you don't need to worry about Caffeine in tea.

Because I was born as a son of tea producer in Japan, tea drinking is very close custom for me. Every after meal, a cup of tea was prepared by my mother, and everyone drunk tea without any special concern. Surprisingly (it's not surprising for me), I've never been to dentist to cure cavity or any other tooth-related disease. There must be personal difference for health effect of green tea consumption, but it's sure that green tea can bring healthy influence to your life.