Radiation and Tea in Japan


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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Apr 10th, '13, 15:08

I have sent a PM to all posters of this topic. You are advised to check your PMs. If you did not receive it, please PM me.

Have a great TeaDay,
Chip
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Apr 11th, '13, 16:24

Since the topic of discussion has been a source of concern in regards to Yuuki-Cha's response (see Yuuki_Cha topic under Vendor Guide) I am posting this here as well.

Chip wrote:Mod hat on ...

As I mentioned I would, I just got off the phone with Adagio ownership. As anticipated, the response was very pro forum and supportive ... "we still have a constitution which guarantees freedom of speech."

He also paraphrased one of his favorite quotes which he has shared with me on more than one occasion, "I may disagree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it to the death." Not that he is disagreeing with anything said by members, but this seems to be his outlook as he believes strongly in freedom of speech.

So, feel free to post opinions regarding teas, vendors based upon your personal experience. When presenting "facts," be pretty sure of their truthfulness and cite sources where applicable. And do not post maliciously or for the purpose of causing harm.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Kevangogh » Apr 11th, '13, 23:35

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.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Poohblah » Apr 12th, '13, 00:33

Thank you very much Kevin! That post was much appreciated.

There are some weird people out there with weird ulterior motives... Sometimes I just chalk it up to people being hungry for attention.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Apr 12th, '13, 01:04

+1

While we likely knew the vast majority of this already, it is good to hear about much of it directly from an involved vendor such as yourself ... and one many of us already know.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Stentor » Apr 12th, '13, 04:26

Thank you for posting this, Kevin. It should clear up any confusion and misconceptions regarding O-Cha as well as the radiation issue in general.
It is perfectly reasonable for people to be concerned about radiation. As long as you put all the available information where it will be easily noticed by the customer, then you have done your part. The rest is up to the potential customer.

I think your conduct on this forum is exactly right.
I hope you'll continue to post about "general" Japanese tea related things. It's great when you post about things like learning how to brew gyokuro the way they do it at Tsuen and other experiences like that. It's a unique contribution to the forum and I don't think it crosses the line where it becomes "advertisement" or whatever you want to call it. I am glad someone like you takes the time to post here.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby sherubtse » Apr 12th, '13, 14:34

Thank you very much Kevin for the background information.

In spite of this being a "competitor's forum", I am glad that you post from time-to-time. :mrgreen:

Best wishes,
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Seeker » Apr 13th, '13, 10:38

Great and very interesting posts. Enjoyable morning reading today.
I'm sad about a vendor behaving threateningly but I think I understand a response to defend one's territory from potential/imagined damage. Still - the threat leaves a bad taste in my mouth as the post here was CLEARLY intended to expose a kook as a kook - AND THEREFOR, IMHO, probably HELPED & SUPPORTED that vendor - ahem. I read all those posts, watched the kooky video, saw that ALL the comments (when I checked) were from the kook himself - so the kook, IMHO, shot himself in the foot. Doh!
Appreciate the informative post from KG. TY!
May all kooks be so easily identified, disarmed and ignored!
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby corban123 » Apr 13th, '13, 19:28

Honestly Kevin, do post in a competitors forum. Just because you compete in sales can't mean you shouldn't help them out from time to time. Continue to do what you do, and I'll continue to purchase from both of you guys haha.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Catfur » Apr 14th, '13, 00:48

Stentor wrote:[...]It is perfectly reasonable for people to be concerned about radiation.[...]


No, no it is not.

It is absolutely not.

It is ridiculously not.

You (assuming you are not a Chernobyl worker) are orders of MAGNITUDE (like 100X) more likely to die after being splattered on the highway by a truck hauling windmill turbine parts than to encounter a cancer causing dose of radiation (let alone actually die).

Even if you were a Soviet nuclear plant worker (any of those actually hanging out around here, or that you know) you're probably still more likely to end your life being scraped off the highway after being splattered by a semi hauling windmill bits than die of cancer from radiation released by a nuclear accident.

I hate to make ridiculous comparisons about nuclear safety and windmills, but people keep bringing up these ridiculous fears.

As I said before (and will extend now). To get a .8% increase in your lifetime probability of getting cancer (using a wildly over-conservative model and estimation method) you would have to mainline 1 Kg of the worst contaminated tea found in 2011 (1200bq/kg, 1000s of times worse than anything we are talking about here) [edit] a day for three years [forgot to put this in here originally, /edit]. Of course, mainlining that much tea would be instantly fatal just by clogging your arteries, and if you survived that, you'd die of caffeine intoxication.

Ridiculous fears, not reasonable ones.
Last edited by Catfur on Apr 14th, '13, 14:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Stentor » Apr 14th, '13, 05:57

Catfur wrote:Stentor wrote:
[...]It is perfectly reasonable for people to be concerned about radiation.[...]
No, no it is not.
It is absolutely not.
It is ridiculously not.


Of course it is reasonable for people to be concerned about whether or not it is safe to consume the foods that they consume. It is reasonable to want to have all the available information. That's why companies who sell products should supply that information if the safety of their products is - for whatever reason - being questioned.
Whether or not people deal with this information in a reasonable fashion or not is another matter entirely.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Catfur » Apr 14th, '13, 15:00

Stentor wrote:Of course it is reasonable for people to be concerned about whether or not it is safe to consume the foods that they consume. It is reasonable to want to have all the available information. That's why companies who sell products should supply that information if the safety of their products is - for whatever reason - being questioned.
Whether or not people deal with this information in a reasonable fashion or not is another matter entirely.


Okay, I'll grant you that. I'm just tired of seeing people wildly overreact.

Nothing that ordinary consumers have been exposed to so far, however, has been very worthy of anything more than a "oh well" though.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Apr 14th, '13, 15:38

I am not a nuclear physisisisist ... er scientist. I am just a country teaman.

:mrgreen: :idea: :!: 8) :arrow:
You also have to remember, lay folks such as myself are not versed in such matters, and it has a steep learning curve ... not knowing can be creepy to say the very least.

This is a case where ignorance is not bliss.

An "educated" consumer is Japan's best customer ...
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Kevangogh » Apr 17th, '13, 00:21

I'd like to share with this community an email I received today from a customer. Of course I'll redact the name of the individual who sent it, it's not important "who" it is. The customer below is seriously concerned about his tea and even if he isn't using common sense, I of course gave him a refund.

The tea in question was grown in Uji, it's a Tsuen green tea. That's a full 550 km from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

There are two reasons I'm posting it here. The first is that I'd like to give you some idea of what we have to deal with behind the scenes two years after the disasters. This is only one email, as you might imagine, I've had many similar to this. This is not even taking into account the situation I had to deal with back in January from the idiot who went by "veritas" here a few months ago. In case you don't know, that was the guy pretending to be a lawyer who purchased our teas, had them tested, was posted how thrilled he was with the results, then threatened to get a lawyer in Fukushima "at your expense" and sue us despite saying on here how pleased he was with the test results, and who a mere month later publicly stated on the YouTube comments that he still drinks the green tea he had originally complained about.

The main reason I'm posting it, however, is that I would like you to understand how much we appreciate it that most of you, on the contrary, use your brains and common sense. We do appreciate it that most people understand that irradiated ground water from Fukushima Daiichi is not going to not going to seep 550 miles to Uji.

So whether you purchase from us or anyone else, I just want to state how appreciative we are that you, unlike some, have used common sense and continued to purchase Japanese green teas, we know it would be easy to get freaked out about it. Here you go....

I used your web page to send you this same email letter. Please cancel my order # XXXXX


http://www.O-Cha.com
April 16, 2013, 4:05 pm
I have an order (# XXXXX) waiting for shipment of the new crop.

I am concerned about the radiation levels in my order since this is a new crop. I have seen on TV that your underground water supply used for drinking and crops are becoming high in radiation from the nuclear power plant and your government is concerned with the problem. This was on PBS Asia News today.

I really enjoy your teas in the past but I am concerned now of the safety of your product. Until I see that, your government has put a news release that the levels of radiation lower. The program also showed the radiation levels in the west coast area of the USA are also becoming higher from the fallout from Japan’s power plant.

Please cancel my order # XXXXX and return funds to me. I DO NOT WANT THE PRODUCT.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx

Emailed and received to O-Cha on 6:05 AM Wednesday, April 17, 2013 (JST) Time in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby sherubtse » Apr 17th, '13, 07:19

Kevangogh wrote:So whether you purchase from us or anyone else, I just want to state how appreciative we are that you, unlike some, have used common sense and continued to purchase Japanese green teas, we know it would be easy to get freaked out about it. Here you go....


You are welcome! :D

I have bought Japanese green teas throughout, though I did not buy those from Shizuoka during the year of the disaster.

Best wishes,
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