The Difference When Harvesting Non-Shaded and Shaded Tea Leaves
Hello there, Ryhan from d:matcha here! The team and I decided to start this little ‘blogging’ segment in which we breakdown and simplify the different aspects of tea farming, as well as life in Wazuka. I’ll try my best to keep these entries short and sweet because I understand that digital fatigue is very real.
All in all, I hope you enjoy reading this series of entries!
Happy reading :-)
I’m sure some of you may have heard of the phrase: ”Two-leaves and a bud”. This is often used for describing the section of the tea leaves that are plucked to produce the highest quality of Sencha. The truth however, even within Wazuka - a region well-known in Japan for producing high-quality Sencha - this term is rarely used except at special events.
In addition to describing the best parts of tea ideally harvested during the First Flush, “two-leaves and a bud” also automatically insinuates the harvesting process was done by hand. A traditional method of harvesting, handpicking is a repetitive motion that allows the farmers complete control during the harvest. In recent times, tea leaves that have been picked by hand are often traded at an extremely high price. This is to compensate for the labour costs, as well as to protect the tradition.
Currently at d:matcha we do not pick our leaves by hand, with the exception of certain tea fields or special tea events. We do however, pay close attention to our fertilisation process, maintenance process, and frequently monitor the health of our trees. By doing this, we are enable to ensure the third leaf is of the same quality as the first and second leaves.
Furthermore, covered teas products such as Kabusecha, Tencha, and Gyokuro are very rarely harvested via the "two-leaves and a bud” method. Through extended shading and daily maintenance, the tea trees are encouraged to produce young shoots in which their third, fourth, and even fifth leaves have the same tenderness and delicacy desired. This detailed control allows us to maximise our harvest, as well as ensure that the quality is not compromised.
In the future however, we would like to extend the selection of our products and hopefully be able to provide our customers with a selection of handpicked tea!
Watch how the handpicking in action here.
Read about the かぶせ or covering process here.