April 2021 Newsletter
Thank you for your continued support. We're extremely grateful to have you as part of our tea-loving family. Here are some of the updates from Wazuka as told by members of our team. We hope that wherever you may be, you and your loved ones are safe together.
An update from d:matcha's tea fields - Organic fertiliser（by Hiroki.A ）
Spring has sprung! In fact on the 25th of March, the cherry blossoms in Wazuka Town were already blooming. This is much earlier compared to previous years, and if it is an indication of anything, our tea will be harvested earlier too. I predict it will be a busy spring for us tea farmers…
At the same time however, the earlier the start of the tea season, the higher the risk of our tea trees being damaged by frost. To prevent this from happening, we have switched on the giant anti-frost fans you can find in the middle of our tea fields. These fans prevent the young tea shoots from being damaged by sending warm air from the sky in the direction of the fields. This prevents the sprouts from freezing. These fans will also operate automatically once the temperature in the fields drop below a certain level.
Tea trees are also morphologically built with frost countermeasures. At the base of the sprout there is a small leaf known as bracts. These small leaves act as a cover against the forst. When the weather starts to warm, these ‘stored sprouts’ will start to grow and are slowly exposed as the bracts fall off. If the tea fields were to be affected by frost after this happens, it is highly likely that the young sprouts will be severely damaged. Interestingly enough, the bracts rarely grow bigger than the sprouts. The driving force behind the successful growth of young tea shoots are then scattered silently on the tea fields after serving their purpose.
D:matcha’s staff’s tea life（by Natsuki）
Lately I’ve been interested in vegan sweets so I decided to make tiramisu with cocoa powder during our lunch break! This delicious snack, which was surprisingly easy to make, was made of tofu, avocado, nuts, honey, coconut oil, and matcha.
I was a bit apprehensive at first about what a dessert without sugar would taste like, but the sweetness of the honey brought the flavour through. Depending on your dietary preference, the honey can be substituted for a vegan option. Everyone at work enjoyed it tremendously! While we have yet to officially commercialise the product, the recipe can be found on both d:matcha’s Japanese and English websites! ^^
Recently I have also noticed that the number of healthier dessert options in convenience stores have also increased! These products are made with simple ingredients, making it gentle and easy to digest. Without requiring any eggs, milk, or cheese, why don’t you indulge in our healthy matcha vegan recipe today!♩♩
Aiming for sustainable agriculture（by Chisei.T）
Today I will talk briefly about the symbiotic relationship between legumes and the soil bacteria known as rhizobia!
In one of my previous newsletters I mentioned that legumes such as soybeans, white clovers, and astragalus have the ability to exist symbiotically with the bacteria rhizobia. This is a special relationship because not all plants are able to do so. It is also important because this is one of the ways nitrogen in the soil is organically and naturally restored.
When the soil is low in nitrogen, the legumes will grow nodules (pictured) around its roots. These nodules act as a conducive environment for the rhizobia - sort of like a house - to settle in. A key characteristic of this bacteria is that it can convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonia. The latter is easily absorbed by the plants and subsequently converted into amino acids to support its growth. In exchange, the legumes provide the rhizobia with sugar that was obtained during photosynthesis.
Growing legumes alongside tea is ideal because tea requires a high amount of nitrogen. I also feel that this method allows us to restore the levels of nitrogen in the soil naturally. Hopefully this year we will be able to fertilise our tea fields with our own legume green manure!
The sound of words（by Ryhan）
I am glad to finally announce that our “日本茶 Japanese Green Tea (Physical Textbook)” is now in the process of being printed! After months of spending hours - both in and out of the office - hard at work, the results of our efforts have finally accumulated and taken shape. I will admit that the translation process was extremely challenging. Aside from restructuring the text into English, I also spent a significant amount of time researching Japan's history, a plant’s biology structure, and deciphering scientific terms, among others. Reflecting back, I must have looked slightly deranged to the cafe staff in Nara! “The girl who comes in day after day, talking to herself while writing.”
One moment I distinctly remember during the process was when my mother sent me a screenshot from a Murakami Haruki interview. The interviewer was asking Murakami-sensei what was the “most important aspect of a good translation?” and his reply was: “Ears. Unless you’re sensitive to sound, you can’t produce a good translation...you need to have the ability to hear. From work choice to punctuation, it all comes down to a person’s sense of sound.”
This was extremely motivating to read as even when I am translating our monthly newsletter, I am always trying my best to write from my colleagues’ point of view. Everyone has their unique perspective and it would be a shame for that to be lost in translation. So when you’re reading our newsletter or textbook (please do check it out!), I sincerely hope that you can feel our dedication and hear the passion we have for our craft through our words. After all, that is the greatest compliment a writer could receive.
Wazuka Town Emigration Promotion Project（by Misato.T）
Just the other day I took part in a Zoom event as a presenter! The purpose of the session was to connect those who wish to move to Wazuka Town with those who have already migrated to Wazuka Town. There were a total of nine participants, and some of them had even previously participated in our d:matcha tea tours! Apparently during the tour they were impressed by the beautiful scenery and climate, so they felt compelled to move to Wazuka Town. This made me extremely happy to hear!
In recent years, the town’s community has also been focused on boosting tourism, as well as strategically increasing the number of visitors. They have since been creating more unique opportunities to connect more people to Wazuka Town and it seems to be working very well! This is especially important since the town’s population is rapidly declining. There is a dire need for more manpower to help with maintaining the landscape, culture, and tea cultivation techniques.
We are also always on the lookout for new friends who would like to work together to make Wazuka Town more successful! Just the other day, a student based in Kanto came to d:matcha and participated in a two day internship with us. So if you are interested or if you have friends who are willing to move to the countryside, we would always be happy to welcome you.
Life in Wazuka Town has its own charm that cannot be replicated in urban life. Next time I would like to tell you more about its unique features!
d:matcha news（by Daiki.T）
This month I will be sharing with you more about our new facility in Yubune, Wazuka Town.
In February 2021, our latest facility in Yubune was finally completed! The building, which was formerly a textile factory, has since been renovated into a workshop space for both our tea tours and tea business school. From the premise you will also be able to spot most of the tea fields managed by d:matcha.
Furthermore we also added a shower room, a washing room, and brand new toilets! The latter may seem like a trivial update, but these toilets are up to date with a flushing and disposal system. This is important and will provide our tea tour participants or interns to have a more comfortable overnight experience.
We are now in the midst of planning various events, and I look forward to welcoming you to our new facility!