Since I choose to operate my business in complete transparency, and since my company was also mentioned in said video and also in various areas of this thread, I would like to explain how my company, O-Cha.com, has been involved in this situation.
First, as you can imagine, living in Fukushima, I have had to deal with a bazillion questions regarding radiation in green tea. We moved our operation to Uji for one year with the graceful assistance of Tsuen tea. “That which does not kill you makes you stronger” - it turned out to be a great experience working with them right in Uji, in Japan's oldest teashop. I made a lot of good connections there, experienced many things which I never would have had a chance to have had I not been forced to re-locate there because of the disasters. After one year, I moved back and continue operations from Iwaki city in Fukushima. There is no radiation danger here - I'm living here. Trust me, if I thought there was any chance of being irradiated here, I wouldn't be here. There is measuring equipment one block from my office - I looked at it just yesterday and the levels were 0.14 microseverts per hour - less than what you will find in London. All of our teas are packaged down south. Despite all of this, to this very day I get questions from customers and potential customers about radiation almost daily. Not long ago I had a lady buy our expensive Uji gyokuro "Tsurujirushi" and also "Kamejirushi", then after she received them, but before she opened the package, she said she wanted to return them because she feared the radiation. Fine, I got them back and gave her a refund (minus the shipping fee). As per our freshness policy, they are not fresh enough to sell anymore but they are still just fine and I am enjoying them both immensely myself. Anyway - by this stage of things I'm very tired of hearing about radiation, having people question our integrity, etc, etc, in regards to radiation in green tea. Do you understand? My attitude now is that the information is out there, we've fully explained our position on it, it's posted all over our web site. There comes a point when the consumer has to make a choice based on the information out there and live with it. I feel that if a customer is even slightly worried about radiation in our green tea, despite the info that's been put out there about it, that I would just assume have them not buy it from us, it's as simple as that. For every one customer who is freaked out about this issue, there are 200 more who are not bothered at all by it anymore.
So with that as a reference, back in November I get an email from this guy who posted here as "veritas caute.” The email was the same type I typically get when someone is worried about radiation in green tea, seen it, done it, been there. I address it, tell him there is no radiation in our Uji gyokuro, send him links to the site, etc. Then on November 29th, this guy goes ahead and orders (4) Tsuen Uji gyokuro "Yume no Ukihashi." However, in the customer notes section he adds this big long legal rambling. If I were to post it here now it would be quite lengthy so I'll spare you all the legal verbiage but it is long and rambling and…weird. When I saw it, it kind of pissed me off. This guy thinks he is a lawyer, it's got all the legal verbiage, but still, it's quite apparent to me he is not really a lawyer because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that adding wording to the customer notes section is not really going to cut it, legally. After reading it I thought he was a kook, honestly, and seriously considered just canning the whole order and giving him his money back - experience has taught me it's better to not even deal with someone like this. But, against my own better judgment and in retrospect regret, I went ahead and sent him his tea. A few months later he informed me by email that he had sent the tea he had purchased to a lab to be tested for radiation. I thought that was rather sneaky but hey, once he purchases the tea from us he is entitled to do whatever he wants with it and I for one had no worries about it anyway, so I figured, “whatever.”
In January of this year I noticed this guy posting here about sending the tea in at his own expense for testing, and notice he also tested YC tea as well. Knowing the situation as I do, I assumed (correctly) that neither my company's nor YC's tea would show radiation. On January 15th, he posted the results. The first response was by PoohBlah
, and I quote:
"holy low readings batman. Looks like even the most paranoid would feel safe drinking those teas."
This was followed by a post from veritas himself stating,
"Yeah, even the lab tech said "the results were zero. there is no problem with the tea." ...this was when I was pressing him to release the results by phone. But I wanted the actual reading, which is posted.
So really what I take from this is:
1. All the teas are substantially free from contamination (1 or 2 bq can be found anywhere in the world).
2. the presence of c134 even though it's not at all harmful does indicated that the radiation from Fukushima did affect all of Japan. C134 could only have come from Diaichi. But this is a worldwide problem. At <10 bq/kq it's not something that should concern anyone.
I am still very happy I did the test and both O Cha and Yuuki-Cha have passed with flying colours. So I will be continuing to buy from them. Demonstrably safe sources."
Everyone is happy, right? He's happy, right? Apparently not, as this is where the story gets weird.
A few days later I get an email from this verities guy. I assumed he was writing to congratulate me since our teas were virtually zero (it's difficult for measuring equipment to accurately measure radiation when levels are that low so '1' or '2' are basically meaningless low levels), but no, he's very angry! He's claiming we are defrauding our customers with inaccurate information, that our teas are not radiation free, that we're lying. This, despite what you can see for yourself what he has written above, it made no sense whatsoever. (Note: I have all original emails from this guy and can verify the truth of the above if necessary.)
Then he proceeds to threaten me with legal action. His email was written in the form of a legal threat, something you would get from a lawyer. Well, despite it looking like something from a lawyer, I realized no "real" lawyer would waste his time with this; this is a "wanna-be" lawyer. He threatened to get a lawyer in Fukushima at my expense, lol, right. I'm not really sure what this guy's aim was, but whatever it was I knew he was bluffing, he was trying to scare me and it wasn’t working. He had already posted publicly after the test results were in what you see above. He continued to send me a series of nasty emails over the next few days. He said he was going to get the Japanese embassy involved, he tried to contact Tsuen, threatened them, etc. I contacted them and let them know what was going on and received their full and unwavering support. In fact, we were preparing to take the next step on our own, we were ready for any eventuality.
Since YC seemed to be in the same boat as I was, I reluctantly made an unprecedented, first time attempt to contact the owner there via his site's contact form and asked him to get in touch with me via email if he wished to discuss the situation with this verities individual. While I have many competitors in this field who I have mutual respect for, this would probably be the one competitor I do not hold very high regards to which is why I consider it to be unprecedented. Nevertheless, I felt this situation superseded that and contacted him anyway. This request was ignored, about what I should have expected.
Once I realized YC was going to be useless and that I was basically on my own here, I continued on. There was a series of emails which went back and forth between veritas an myself over the following days but when it became apparent to this individual that I was not falling for the scare tactics, his last email was one in which he called me a bunch of profane names. When he resorted to that, I know that I had prevailed. Perhaps it might have been some attempt at extortion, I'm still not sure exactly what his goal was truth be told. I'm also not sure what happened between him and YC, I assume they also must have had some kind of exchange – no idea how that went down.
Speaking of "veritas", for the record he was kicked off the forum by Chip when his inconsistencies became apparent. I had no part in his getting kicked off of here, Chip did that on his own without any prodding from me, and I wasn't even aware he was kicked off of this forum until veritas himself contacted me and accused me of having had that done. No, absolutely not. I will admit I was happy he got kicked off and thought more highly of Chip afterwards for having done so, however.
All done, right? No, I guess not. The YouTube video surfaced, Alex placed a link to it. So what?!?! Alex can link to whatever he wants to, it’s his business. The video in question was a joke in the first place - some guy holding up a Geiger counter to tea leaves. By this stage, everyone knows you can't check radiation in tea by that method. Veritas himself had to spend $300 for an expensive lab test and even there the readings were so low they are considered to be virtually free of radiation. Veritas himself tells us in his post that his testing lab said as much. It was the comment section of the video where things were getting interesting. Veritas, now no longer a part of this forum, uses the comments section to lash out a bit. Same old drivel, he mentions the test results of both our teas and YC teas. Please go have a look and you will see (if he hasn't erased it yet) that despite the readings, despite all the nasty emails and legal threats, he admits in the comments section that he is STILL DRINKING OUR UJI GYOKURO! He says he has thrown out the YC gyokuro (YC's readings on gyokuro were <2, our's were <1 - both so low I don't think it matters one way or the other).
The video thing was oh so a month ago, I thought it was dead. A stupid video showing some idiot holding a Geiger counter to tea leaves. Comments by a known kook. YC is mentioned, my company is mentioned, so what - that video has no credibility anyway. Which is why I'm very surprised anyone would even bother to address it at this stage.
So that's what was going on in the background, from our point of view.
I try not to post here because this is a competitor's forum. I think it would be rude to go into another company's forum and advertise my wares. However, I'm not afraid to be here either. I'm here mainly because I care about the reputation of my company. Sometimes someone will unintentionally post misinformation about a product we are selling; I like to make sure anything said about us is accurate. If you don't like one of our teas, that's okay and I'm not going to get mad if you don't like it, even if I think you are wrong. Usually for every person who doesn't like a particular tea, there is also someone else who loves it. Sometimes I'll post something tea related, like when I posted the temperature sensor I'm using the other day. Outside of that, I try not to push my stuff here. We're mentioned a lot though, and in this case I thought it would be a good idea for everyone to know what was going on with this situation, at least from our end.