April 2023 Newsletter
Hello, thank you for supporting d:matcha Kyoto! This newsletter is filled with the monthly updates from our team. We hope you enjoy our stories from Wazuka Town, Kyoto Prefecture.
About farming (by Aka.H)
Rare tea leaves part⑥
I’ve been tea farming for six years and I often see unusual-shaped tea leaves. Today I would like to describe some tea leaves that I found according to personal preference.
The photo on the right is a scene that you can only see once every few years. This is called Chuugari or Middle pruning. What we do here is cut the tree so deep that what is left is branches. It seems painful at first but this is very important in order to keep harvesting delicious tea. What happens after harvesting tea is that the branches split into smaller branches as they grow. Tea harvesting is a cycle of harvesting young leaves from the small branches. The more leaves grow from the splitted branches, the less nutrients there will be from a single leaf. Also we need to keep cutting down the top part of the branches because if the trees are growing too tall it will be difficult for us to harvest so we need to reset the thin branches. The photo below shows big strong young leaves that have grown after the middle pruning.
Middle pruning often occurred before summer and you can discover leafless trees if you come to Wazuka around July.
The first step of leaning Chado（by Seiya.H)
Ten years ago during April, I decided to learn Chado or way of tea. At that time I was a high-school student and I started studying in United States from a teacher that taught us in English.
There are many ways to learn Chado but almost everyone first starts learning from a way called Warigeiko.
Warigeiko focuses on the basic techniques like how to bow, how to walk and how to hold certain utensils. The procedure for serving matcha to your guests is not complicated but how to do it neatly and smoothly can be called artwork. Depending on the teachers, how to move your fingers at what angle and how fast you proceed can be different. Beginners first start by doing the same procedure over and over again like swinging a bat or racket in sports. We need to repeat a good stance at first because after learning your procedures, it takes a hard time to fix your bad habits. I was surprised to hear that a friend of mine started chado from a different teacher as mine and she had to repeat how to open and close the sliding door for three months.
My teacher always said “Practice Practice Practice!” so I practiced my movements back at home. One way I did this was moving my hands while watching television because my body will naturally move into its procedure even if I’m distracted.
During tea ceremonies, some guests are more interested in the host’s procedures and there are many opinions on why they like the host’s hospitality (Some might like how the host walks) All hosts and teachers started learning chado from Warigeiko and reached their goal to their opinion on a beautiful procedure. Please enjoy the hospitality and its original art when visiting a tea ceremony!
Many people start Warigeiko like the photo on top. Here we practice how to hold and purify each utensil.
Matcha beauty recipe No.11（by Natsuki)
I would like to introduce a new matcha recipe that is simple and enjoyable
My eleventh recipe will be a fresh berry matcha squash that is just right for spring season!
【Berry Matcha Squash】
・1 teaspoon of Samidori matcha
・1 : 1 ratio of frozen berry and sugar
・200 ml of carbonated water
We start creating the berry sauce
Heat the frozen berry and sugar in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Mix well when the sugar is completely melted and cool it down in the refrigerator.
- Add the berry sauce in your glass up to 10 percent.
- Add ice in the glass as much as possible.
- Add carbonated water up to 80 percent.
- Add matcha in a different container and melt with a tablespoon of hot water.
Add the hot matcha in the glass.
※If you carefully dodge the ice while pouroing into the container, it will create a beautiful gradation.
Please try adding gum syrup as an optional sweetness!
Store menu Berry Matcha squash with black tea cheesecake.
▶Very cold carbonated water or cider goes very well with matcha! It is delicious even without the berry. We purchased a bottle just for carbonated water. We are preparing a new beverage by summer that will use cider and matcha!
d-matcha Tea farm (by Ko.Y）
We planted baby tea trees that were from the nursery farm to our own tea field.
The furrows of the trees are wide which causes weeds to grow. So we use agricultural mulch and straw to cover the field to avoid weeds. Plowing the farm is one way to get rid of weeds by naturally cutting down its roots while they are still small.
I really liked experiencing planting our own tea trees because I will be using these tea for confectionery. I am looking forward to the trees to grow so I can make delicious matcha sweets from it.
d:matcha Establishment part⑳～Cultural exchange program of d:matcha and Stanford MBA students（5）～（by Misato.T)
Due to COVID 19, students from Stanford University were not able to come to Japan for two years. So Stanford students helped us out by an online internship program.
Finally on 2022 we were able to welcome students from the United States. There were dozens of students who were requesting d:matcha as their internship and we chose two students to come help us.
According to students they wanted to choose d:matcha as their internship because most of their options focus on consulting companies and investment banks but we are more of a food company and venture family business which is unnatural. Also many students were very excited to visit Japan.
Mac and Alice came to d:matcha in 2022.
Mac helped us out with an international online website which included interviews and questionnaires to our members. It is very important for us to know about our brand and what kind of customers are interested in our goods and their opinions.
Mac also gave us advice according to her research and helped us out on our task.
Alice was also interested in working for the food company and loved to eat. She said she wants to work in the food business and investment funds. She really wants to try food business but it is very hard to make a profit in the United States so she thought doing an investment side is better for her skills.
Alice had a lot of knowledge on food companies and she gave us a lot of advice on which companies and influencers to benchmark and market.
I thought ladies have more skills when it comes to food companies because they have more knowledge on food and have more opinions and sensibility as daily consumers.
Alice and Mac worked extremely hard on helping us out and in the end they both gave us a huge proposal on what we need to work on that even covered very small tasks that had to be improved.
After returning to the United States, they used our tea to give a party to their friends!
We are very glad that friends of Mac and Alice purchased our tea!
Yumewakaba (Young dream) , Ujihikari（by Daiki.T）
On March 17 2013, we planted baby tea leaves in Yubune! This year we welcomed cultivars, Yumewakaba and Ujihikari to d:matcha.
When we tried planting Houshun and Komakage last year, we suffered from removing weeds so this year we used agricultural mulch which are sheets that prevent weeds from growing around our tea trees. We were able to finish with nine of the staff in one day and now our new tea farm is surrounded by an electric fence to prevent deers from eating our leaves.
It takes about seven years for tea trees to be fully grown and it takes four to five years to be able to harvest. It takes a long time and this might not be successful but we are trying to plant new trees every year because we need to occasionally prepare for the future.
I chose Ujihikari and Yumewakaba not only because of the aroma and taste but because I liked the name. Ujihikari means Uji’s light and Yumewakaba means Young leaf dream. The location of the farm is right next to the river and originally a place full of sand which means a well drainage area thich might be nice for harvesting tencha and gyokuro.
Also this year we worked together with Omron (Which is an electronics company based in Kyoto) on placing sensors on farms that are in the South East and North West. What we are trying to do is survey the climate and soil data scientifically. Ancient farmers have said trees on the East have more aroma and trees on the North grow more straight so we are trying to collect data so we can learn more about our trees every day.