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Winners of O-CHA Pioneer Award 2022

Academic Research Award

Excellent academic research related to tea

IKKA Takashi Ph.D

(Associate Professor of College of Agriculture, Shizuoka University)


Research in Nutritional Physiology and Building Next-Generation Tea Breeding Methods

Ikka Takashi has played a guiding role in projects to improve breeding efficiency through efforts such as obtaining genetic information on the functional components of tea from vast amounts of tea DNA data, and shedding light on the effectiveness of an individual selection technique based on genomic prediction. The results of these projects show promise for practical application, such as shortened breeding time, and have great potential for the tea industry.


Industrial Technology/Product Development Award

Development of excellent technologies and products related to tea production and consumption


(Manager for Division of Tea Research, Institute of Fruit Tree and Tea Science, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO))


Contributing to the Global Spread of Japanese Tea through International Standardization

With the increase in the distribution and consumption of green tea worldwide, efforts to standardize green tea are moving forward. Over the course of this process, it is important to convey and emphasize the characteristics and diversity of Japanese green tea to the world. Taking a lead role in activities to do this, Sumikawa Osamu has encouraged the Japanese tea industry’s involvement in international standardization efforts, and in 2015 played an instrumental role in having the general meeting for the ISO/TC 34 (Foods Products committee) SC8 (Tea subcommittee) held in Shizuoka.


Culture and Arts Award

Outstanding achievements in tha culture and art

Saita Foundation for The Enhancement of Tea Culture, Saita Museum

(Curator, Saita Yukiko)


Promoting the Appeal, Culture, and History of Japanese Tea through the Saita Museum

The roots of the Saita Museum lie in a former Tokyo tea grower. As an organization dedicated to promoting tea culture, the museum has conveyed the appeal, culture, and history of Japanese tea through many long years of carrying out activities such as exhibitions and seminars. It holds a great amount of valuable tea-related materials from the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912) in its collection. The museum also features exhibits that look at the business side of tea. For example, in 2021 it was the first in Tokyo to hold an exhibition on vintage tea labels for tea chests.


O-CHA Special Award

Excellent academic research related to tea


(Representative of Community Designing Studio LLC.)


Creation of a New Category of Tea and Contribution to the Spread of Japan-Produced Black Tea

When government restrictions on black tea were loosened in 1971, Japan-produced black tea was nearly non-existent. Fujiwara Kazuki played a pioneering role in reviving Japanese black tea production with the idea of “ji-kocha,” (a term he invented that means locally grown black tea). In 2002 he started holding ji-kocha event in Tottori. This grew into an annual “ji-kocha summit” that is held at a different black tea producing region in Japan each year. Today, it is the country’s biggest event for black tea enthusiasts.


CHAllenge Award

Ambitious efforts to drive the future of tea

ISHIBE Kentaro

(Owner of Japanese tea shop "Nishikien")


Industrious Efforts to Spread Japanese Tea from New Angles

Ishibe Kentaro introduced the concept of “single origin” tea throughout the Japanese tea industry, something which few in the industry had embraced until then, and fostered diversity in Japanese tea. He has also contributed to the widespread use of flat-bottom teapots and conveyed the interesting and fun side of tea through lectures and various forms of media. he looks at tea from novel angles, and we look forward to his continued industrious, visionary activities.


Hannah HABES

(Founder of MATCHAFUL)


Female Founder of New York Matcha Cafe Matchaful

Hannah Habes is an up-and-coming entrepreneur who opened the matcha cafe Matchaful in New York in 2017, and has continued her industrious efforts despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Matchaful is an environmentally conscious tea cafĂ© that specializes in premium organic matcha mainly from Shizuoka Prefecture. The cafe is expected to become an important channel for learning information about the US market, such as American’s tastes in Japanese tea.