Japan is among the top 10 tea importing and exporting countries.
It is one of the main green tea exporting countries in terms of total value, often ranking second or third place each year.
But China’s green tea exports are so large, that Japanese green tea exports are almost insignificant in comparison.
Out of Japan’s green tea imports, more than 80% come from China.
As you can see in the graph, Japan used to import much more green tea than it does now.
This happened with the rise of bottled tea consumption.
But during the following years, domestic production accommodated to supply more green tea for those types of drinks.
In 2020, Japan exported 5,274 tons and imported 3,917 tons of green tea.
That same year, the production of Japanese green tea amounted to 69,800 tons.
A little more than half of Japanese green tea production consists of sencha.
Sadly, bottled tea has a larger market in Japan than loose leaf tea.
The growing demand for matcha worldwide has helped the Japanese tea industry, but most of that demand is for cooking grade matcha.
As more people switch to bottled tea, the price of Japanese green tea tends to go down because a high percentage of Japanese tea is still used for bottled tea.
Bottled tea doesn’t require very high quality tea leaves. Cheaper tea is preferred.
So every year there is an overall lower incentive for tea farmers to concentrate on high quality loose leaf tea.