August 2020 Newsletter

- d:matcha's tea fields(by Hiroki.A

In August, we expect the long rainy season to finally be over and for the Summer heat to arrive! This is also the period of time we dedicate to the planning and execution of our fertiliser management plan for next year’s harvest.

As there are several different varieties of Japanese tea, each management plan is tweaked depending on the end product desired. Furthermore, different customers have their own preferences. For example, we have customers who prefer bitter Sencha, and there are also those who prefer a deeper umami taste with just a hint of bitterness. From our experience, we believe that the use of fertiliser has the potential to greatly alter these characteristics. When fertiliser is applied however, the natural scent of each variety is weakened. This is where shading comes into play. Through shading, the aroma and umami taste is improved.

The fertilisation management plans are tailored to focus on both the variety of the tea, as well as the end product that is desired. For example, our Yabukita variety has a strong and distinct aroma. By reducing the amount of fertiliser used and through extended shading, we are able to enhance the aroma while deepening the taste of umami.

Tea is fascinating, and the correlation between the amount of fertiliser needed and the final product is always changing. Variables such as whether the fields are organic, the type of fertiliser, and when it is applied, all have to be considered. Furthermore, the result is never certain until the next harvest is completed. Every year is challenging, but I try my best and always reflect on the tea leaves previously harvested as a guide.

- d:matcha staff's tea life (by Natsuki.S)

Now that summer is here, I have begun practicing the art of making tea with traditional tea boxes at my Tea Ceremony Classes! Traditional “tea boxes”, are small boxes that contains a chasen (special whisk for Matcha) and a small Matcha bowl. Back in the days, tea connoisseurs would bring their favourite (or most presentable) tea boxes and baskets to their friends' homes. These visits often culminate in them brewing and enjoying tea outdoors.

While there may only be one type of tea box, the features of the box change depending on the season. The tea box in summer, which is one of the simplest, is called "Unohana". The petite cute “Unohana” is a common choice for many tea enthusiasts as it can be used both indoors and outdoors.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to work with a new type and shape of bowl! While making my tea, I also began imaging how wonderful it would be to have my own tea box and make tea by Kamogawa! I was also impressed by the delicious warabi-mochi, handmade by my teacher.

- Our aim for sustainable tea cultivation(by Chisei.T)

Recently, various environmental issues and abnormal weather patterns are occurring more frequently due to global warming. As a matter of fact, agriculture and farming actually plays a role in contributing to environmental damage. This includes greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, desertification, and water pollution.

For tea farming, one common issue that arises is the contamination of the soil and groundwater. Unlike organic fertilisers, chemical fertilisers cannot be stored in the soil and do not decompose over time. Any excess fertiliser not absorbed by the trees, will eventually mix with groundwater and run into the river.

The use of chemical fertilisers however, should not be entirely shun upon. It is an undeniable fact that chemical fertilisers have played a crucial role in solving the world’s food problems. If and when used properly, the fertiliser acts as an appropriate supplement to aid the timely production of food. The use of chemical fertilisers is best maximised when appropriately regulated depending on the country it is used in, food produce it is used for, the location of the farm, and so on.

The green revolution that introduced chemical fertilisers, agriculture machinery, and other imports only took place 60 years ago. I feel that there is room for improvement, and new discoveries to be made. The introduction of smart agriculture and efficient utilisation of industrial waste has also had positive effects. There is now an increase in the production of local fertiliser, as well as a growing culture of recycled agriculture. The latter is the use of by-products of farming as fertiliser for the same fields.

All things considered, tea is classified by some as a luxury item as compared to essential food items such as grains or rice. At d:matcha we have now been dedicating time to focus on producing tea that has a low carbon footprint and does not do too much harm to the environment. Our organic farming support project is also exploring alternatives to chemical fertilisers. While this project will take a long period of trial and error, we are hopeful that we can create a sustainable agriculture model that is best suited for Wazuka and Japanese green tea.

- Benefits of cold brew Sencha(by Saki.N)

The rainy season is over, and the Summer is here! The days are likely to be equally warm this year, and we will also be required to wear masks as a prevention measure against COVID-19. Therefore, frequent hydration is especially as the risk of heat stroke is also higher.

Tea contains high levels of vitamins and minerals, thus is efficient in preventing heat stroke. In addition, tea has several other benefits such as improving one’s immunity. When brewed at low temperature, you will also be able to enjoy the umami and sweet flavour of the brew. Won’t you have some cold brew Sencha today?

- Ema at Hakusan Shrine (by Ryhan)

Aside from doing farm work and like the rest of my colleagues at d:matcha, we all wear several hats during office hours. While I have confidence in my photo and video skills, designing and creating the Ema for our Adopt-A-d:matcha-Tea Tree initiative was an extremely intimidating task. Everything had to be done from scratch and I myself had very little experience in such artistic endeavours.

I was determined to do my best not solely as a show of appreciation for the customers supporting us, but also because the Ema would be hung at Hakusan Shrine. Located right next to our organic tea fields in Yubune, d:matcha is the only tea company in Wazuka with the privilege of doing so!

Nerves aside, I managed to push through with advice from those I consulted, help from my colleagues, and these wise words from a friend: “一からゼロは一番難しい” (Starting from scratch to the first draft is always the hardest).

All in all, I am glad that everything came together nicely and that our customers are satisfied with the end product. I hope to be able to create new projects that provide more opportunities for the arts, farming, and new technology intertwined together. I look forward to your continued support then 🙏

- Our new tasty sweet products!(by Misato.T)

At d:matcha Kyoto Kitchen & Cafe, we have had customers telling us, "I have almost no chance to drink Japanese tea at home." Therefore, for the second half of the year, d:matcha will be focusing on developing new and unique dessert products. We want more customers to able to enjoy different types of Japanese, and we hope to achieve this by using sweets as a catalyst.

With that being said, we recently released two new products: "Chilled Ujicha Zenzai Comparison Set" and "Mango Matcha Tiramisu"! Two different yet equally refreshing tea desserts that are especially enjoyable in the summer heat~

While there are times when I feel lonely as a farmer however, my motivation to work hard comes from wanting to provide small surprises and discoveries about tea for my customers. I hope you look forward to the new products that we are developing!

- about d:matcha(by Daiki.T)

In response to COVID-19, the Kyoto Prefectural government has nominated members for the newly formed "Corona Crisis Overcoming Conference Tourism Department" and the "New Ordinance Review Committee on Migration and Settlement". I am honoured to have been invited as one of the six members. Other members in the committee include the Governor of Nishiwaki, the manager of the Tango Province in the North of Kyoto, and the manager of Gion. 

The committee will focus on solutions in dealing with the influence of COVID-19, as well seek means of tackling other growing issues such as over-tourism within Kyoto Prefecture. The agenda is set towards achieving sustainable tourism. The agenda is divided into short, medium, and long-term strategies. Furthermore, there is growing desire among the Japanese population to relocate in suburban areas amidst the current pandemic. The committee will thus also focus on teleworking, and methods in which we can improve the online working environment within Kyoto Prefecture.

COVID-19 has been a huge catalyst for businesses in Japan to review their work styles, for Japanese citizens to re-evaluate their current accommodation, and for municipal governments to revise their approach to sectors that rely heavily on tourism. Tourism in Kyoto Prefecture has now shifted from being a means of gathering people in new locations, to now focusing on establishing emotional connections with the residents themselves. I hope that genuine interest in cultural traditions and craftsmanship within the region can be cultivated over time. The committee also hopes that through further improvement, d:matcha can serve as a base for welcoming customers from all over Kyoto Prefecture, and not just Kyoto City.

(Left photo) A field in the Yubune area, in Wazuka. This year, we will be expanding the number of tea fields. Visitors will now be able to experience better views!

(Right photo) Shigaraki Town is close to Wazuka Town, so I think it would be interesting to be able to set a wide tourist targetted area that encompasses Kyoto City, Wazuka Town, and Shigaraki Town.

August 2020 Newsletter - d:matcha Kyoto