Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture is on the central eastern coast facing the Pacific Ocean. Mt. Fuji is located on the northern border of Shizuoka Prefecture - a region of mountainous terrain rising to 3000 meters (10,000 feet). The area is prone to earthquakes with a major quake occurring every 100 - 150 years.
The name Shizuoka translates as "Tranquil Hills." The area provides a pristine cultivating area for tea because of its adequate rainfall and thick fog. Tea has been produced in this region for more than 800 years.
Today the Shizuoka tea region is the largest in Japan with 41% of the nation's tea plantations which produce 45% of the national crop. Shizuoka tea is considered to be the best tea of Japan.
Most tea plantations in Shizuoka are small, family-run operations which have remained in the same family for many generations. Each plantation may grow several varietals of tea in various plots. Almost all of the tea is processed into green tea.
There are three harvests a year. The spring harvest begins in the middle of April and continues to the end of May. The early summer harvest is in late June, and the late summer harvest is from late July to early August.
Harvesting is done either by hand or with machine. The highest-grade tea is always hand-plucked and hand-processed. Commercial-grade tea may be entirely machine-processed, but most Shizuoka tea is processed by a combination of hand and machine methods.