Should I be concerned about radioactivity in matcha?
Several readers have asked, "Should I be concerned about potential radioactivity in my matcha? Where is the furthest place where matcha is grown from the meltdown in Japan?" Etc.
Most matcha in Japan is grown very far west of Fukushima, where the 2011 disaster occurred. But for those still concerned about the radiation in matcha, read on:
What we know about radioactivity and the irradiation of Japanese tea leaves:
On March 11, 2011, an energy accident occurred at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant, which was triggered by a tsunami. This resulted in three core meltdowns and the release of radioactive material. Since then, the Japanese government has been testing different types of tea regularly.
In the first year after the disaster, high radiation levels were recorded in the prefectures near Fukushima. According to the Green Tea Guide, these included Fukushima, Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokyo and Kanagawa. No radiation was detected in teas from the western Japanese regions of Uji, Kyoto, Osaka and the island of Kyushu. These include Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Kumamoto and Yame prefectures.
As of August 31, 2014, no high radiation levels for tea have been detected in any prefecture. That says a lot, because Japan's radiation limits are much stricter than in the rest of the world (Japan: 100 Bq, EU: 500 Bq, USA: 1200 Bq-Bq = Becquerel, a unit of measurement for radiation).
Conclusion: As a general rule, the further away you are from the Fukushima region, the more certain you can be that the matcha is not radioactive. Luckily, we grow our matcha in Osaka, which is far west of Fukushima. Additionally, at MatchaLand we test every crop for radioactivity and we have never had a crop that did not pass our tests. 😊