April 2024 Newsletter

Rice Planting  (by Daiki T.) 

In the town of Wazuka, it's customary to plant rice in April, just as the tea harvesting season kicks into full gear. At d:matcha, we cultivate our own rice in the paddy fields in front of our main store.

One of the most crucial aspects of rice cultivation is water management. Water levels can influence growth and suppress weeds, so it's essential to prepare the paddies carefully before planting. The quality of this work directly impacts the harvest and fieldwork duration. Recognizing this, d:matcha redeveloped the fields immediately, consolidating three plots into two. Especially in the lower tier, we meticulously shaped the ridges to facilitate water retention, ensuring optimal conditions for rice cultivation.

This year, we conducted rice planting on April 19th. Many interns expressed interest in participating, including my son Haruki, so we all joined in the planting effort. We received praise from experienced local farmers for the beautiful planting, particularly in the lower tier.

Paddy fields are teeming with life, attracting frogs, birds, ducks, and insects, creating a rich ecosystem. I love the vibrant environment it fosters, and at night, you can enjoy the chorus of frogs, creating a symphony of nature.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the harvest!

First Flush Tea Season (by Aka)

The first flush tea season has arrived in Wazuka town this year. The weather was uncertain in early March with rare snowfall. The good news is, since April the weather has been relatively stable, and this year's first flush tea has been growing smoothly without major frost damage. However, it feels like the growth of tea after sprouting has been fast, possibly due to the sudden warm weather after continuous rainy days since April.

One notable aspect of the tea progress this year is that almost all teas are coming out at nearly the same timing. There are various tea varieties, each with its own characteristics, including differences in sprouting and harvesting times. For example, Samidori is an early sprouting variety, while Okumidori is a late sprouting variety. Tea farmers plant various varieties to standardise the harvesting timing in the crucial tea industry, aiming for stable quality and expanding business scale.

This year, regardless of location and variety, the growth timing of tea seems to be closer compared to previous years, with harvests occurring simultaneously. Normally, for instance, the covering of Okumidori would start five days after Yabukita, but this year, the growth range for each variety is very narrow, with delays one or two days only, causing a hectic schedule. As we plan to harvest covered tea in many tea fields this year as part of our company policy, we are busy with covering work every day.

Covering, covering, covering! (by Daiki T.)

This year, from mid-March, we experienced a prolonged cold spell, but as April arrived, we were blessed with stable warm weather, resulting in almost no frost damage as of April 27th. We are grateful for this fortunate situation! However, April brought more rain and a sudden rise in temperature, leading to slower growth of new shoots compared to usual. Although there are differences between varieties such as Yabukita and Okumidori, there should be more variation throughout the year. As a result, the covering work continues daily.

For matcha and Gyokuro, we cover them for over 20 days, which increases chlorophyll and raises the ratio of amino acids, resulting in a stronger flavor in the tea. Additionally, covering blocks about 90% of sunlight, slowing down the growth rate of the new shoots. Since we cannot use large harvesting machines on the steep slopes in Wazuka, it's essential to adjust the harvesting periods by variety, covering, and location in the fields to ensure quality and increase the cultivated area.

Covering involves labor-intensive work of attaching cold-resistant mesh with clips to the branches, but this year, thanks to the participation of many volunteers from overseas, the work is progressing very quickly!

Tea Farm Succession (by Daiki T.)

Recently, there has been a growing trend worldwide of cafes and other establishments with a focus on quality introducing matcha lattes as a regular menu item. This increase in demand for high-quality matcha is being felt by us as well. We have noticed a rise in the participation of not only tea enthusiasts but also professionals who run their own shops in our tea farm tours and tastings this year. In response to this demand, and considering the scarcity of farmers in Wazuka using pesticide-free, organically derived fertilizers, we at d:matcha have expanded our cultivation area.

In April 2024, we noticed that the neighbouring field, which had not been tended to since the spring of 2023, seemed untouched. We directly approached the owner, who is around 87 years old, and negotiated to take over the field. With a total area of about 1 hectare, this addition has increased our cultivation area to over 4 hectares. To harvest this year's new tea, it was necessary to prune the old branches that had grown since spring 2023 as soon as possible. Therefore, we have been working with about seven people daily in the field to prepare for the harvest. The trees are well-maintained, and we have various varieties such as Samidori, Gokou, and Okumidori, so we are looking forward to the tea we can harvest!

New Career Adventure at d:matcha (by S. Mahdaria)

I was an intern at d:matcha during the 1st harvesting in May 2023. I was so delighted to return to the d:matcha right before the 1st harvesting month in 2024 as a full time employee. 

As a Digital Marketer with a Public Relations background, I am so excited to tell the story about d:matcha to the world. Without a second thought, I said “Yes” to Daiki-san when he offered me the job, and left a promising career as a Lecturer in one of the best private universities in Indonesia.

My involvement in the world of empowerment and my passion for matcha strongly resonate with d:matcha’s vision to revitalise the Yubune area while managing the sustainable organic Japanese Green Tea farms. I believe it is my call to share the great adventure people could possibly have while visiting d:matcha. I am also so excited to interact with people from across the globe who come and enjoy the tea at d:matcha. 

There is so much to learn. There is so much to tell. I cannot wait to turn on my camera, and capture all the wonderful adventures I’m going to experience throughout my career at d:matcha! Of course I am going to share it with you!

Intern’s Experience (by N. Brown)

After two months at d:matcha, my time as an intern has come to an end. As I look back on my internship here, I could not have had a better experience.  

The beginning of March was cold, but peaceful. Most days were spent in the fields fertilizing, which proved to be hard work but also extremely rewarding at the end of the day. We also dedicated a few weeks to building an electric fence to keep the deer out of the rice fields and vegetable garden. It felt like these days were the coldest and it required many layers and hand warmers. On days that we weren't facing the cold outside, we’d be helping out with tours in the cafe or packing confectionery sweets inside. 

By the end of March, it was spring. Everyday was sunny and everyone in the community spent their days outside gardening. I could finally wear a t-shirt, which felt weird because just a week before I was wearing 3 jackets and 2 pairs of socks. Not long after the first day of spring came sakura season, which was as magical as I had always envisioned. We enjoyed a hanami picnic under the trees and spent days off exploring in Kyoto. 

By the end of April, the first flush tea leaves began to sprout. All the fields turned bright green and all the farmers of Wazuka were starting to prepare for harvest season. This involves lots of trimming and shading of the tea trees. At this time, we also started planting rice to prepare for harvest in September! 

Overall, I will forever cherish my time at d:matcha. I am so grateful for Daiki and Misato for being so generous and making me feel so welcomed into their family. I am positive that I will be back many more times to visit again.


April 2024 Newsletter