February 2021 Newsletter

いつもありがとうございます、d:matcha です。

We hope that you and your loved ones are enjoying a safe pleasant start to the new year.

An update from d:matcha's tea fields - Organic fertiliser(by Hiroki.A

This is the season where the weather grows even colder in January and February, and despite having a mild winter last year; this year it has been significantly colder!

From autumn to winter after pruning, the tea plantations are bare and exposed to the cold weather. On clear nights, the temperature drops to below freezing due to radiative cooling. When exposed to extreme cold weather, the leaves of the tea plantation will change from dark green to a yellowish-green. The extent of the change is also dependent on the variety, location, and the farmer’s cultivation style but it can be observed across all tea fields in Wazuka. After the coldest of winter has passed, the tea trees will slowly turn back to a darker shade of green in preparation for the coming of spring. Day in and day out, the gradual change often goes unnoticed but over time one can definitely see the change.

We believe these changes contribute to the quality of tea, especially the aroma. The change in temperature affects the metabolism of the tea trees, specifically its glucose metabolism rate. For example, carotenoid pigments (the pigments responsible for yellow and orange in vegetables), which are present in green tomatoes and osmanthus flowers, are perceived to be the starting point of these plants’ synthetic circuits. If tea trees undergo a similar change, perhaps this can be contributed to the aroma of the tea in some form. The cold weather in Asamiya and Yubune is significantly lower as compared to locations in Kagoshima and Shizuoka.

I may be looking at a ‘yellow’ tea field in winter, but I’m also wondering what the tea harvested this coming spring will smell like.

D:matcha’s staff’s tea life(by Natsuki)

When I returned to Gifu, I brought back tea as a souvenir for my family, but the brewed tea was still somehow more delicious in Wazuka! Sweeter to be exact! I've since been wondering how to improve my methods of brewing tea to highlight its best characteristics.

After various tries, I’ve found that brewing Harayama no Yabukita at a slightly higher temperature was the favourite among my family members. I then decided to blend the herb Ibukijakousou or thymus quinquefolium (pictured) with the tea. This herb is native to Ibuki Mountain. The scent of the tea became even more fragrant and I enjoyed it very much! When both the herb and yabukita were brewed at a high temperature, the aroma spread softly and the healing effect was great. It is said that Thymus quinquefolium has a detoxing effect and is effective against colds. Tea is also effective against bacterial infections and helps prevent colds. Thus combining the two was like killing two birds with one stone!

In order to one to find tea delicious, factors such as what one is eating, the environment you’re in, and current mental state of mind are also important. Brewing tea in a different location, I was fascinated with how I could discern my customer's preference based on our conversation and the person’s background. I would like to always brew tea that fits a person’s personality!

Uncovering the origin behind a location's name(by Chisei.T)

Sometimes when you explore a city, you may chance upon a sign explaining the connection of the place’s name to its history. For this newsletter I would like to explain to you the origin of "Yamashiro" in the Yamashiro area of Wazuka Town!

In the south of Kyoto Prefecture, there is an area called Yamashiro. The area encompasses seven cities, seven towns, and one village. This includes Wazuka Town and Uji City. Based on the image on the right, the origin of the name is derived from its location. In the olden days, cities such as Heijokyo and Heiankyo were built with the front of the city facing the south. This was done as there is a ‘demon gate’ in the north with Namdaemun and Suzakumon as its guardians.

The river that surrounds the area is also shaped like a belt and this makes it difficult for enemies to attack. Almost as though it was a natural moat protecting a castle. Thus the area was renamed from "Mountain back" to "Yamashiro", as it is still known as today.

The tea plantations in Wazuka Town have many steep slopes, and granted this makes the tea difficult to grow but the end product is extremely delicious tea. Please enjoy the tea and tea confectionery made in Wazuka.

A white January(by Ryhan)

January was an extremely cold month, with the temperature in Wazuka Town dropping to -7°C! Although I always feel that the cold is more bearable when there is snow, and luckily enough, snow it did!

Even Nara City, approximately a half-an-hour drive from Wazuka Town, experienced heavy snowfall. The last time the city’s park and its infamous residents (the deer) saw white was seven years ago. Needless to say, I sprinted out of my house and ran to take as many photographs as I could.

This drastic change in weather however, raises concerns for our planet’s fluctuating climate patterns. Farmers will also be the first in the line of fire as they try to adapt or adopt new practices.

As we try our best to continuously bring you delicious tea, I also hope to continue studying to find new best practices for safe and sustainable cultivation of tea.

Boosting our online presence in 2021(by Misato.T)

Due to the impact of the state of emergency in Kyoto Prefecture this January, the number of customers visiting Wazuka Town has significantly decreased.

Since it has been difficult for our customers to come to Wazuka Town, I think we should focus on conveying the appeal of tea to our customers nationwide via our online store.

At the main store, we are always focusing on explaining so that the sales staff can fully understand information about tea such as how to brew tea, how to grow it, why delicious tea can be made in Wazuka, and so on. Explaining this in person can be tiring for our staff, but it’s also rewarding at the same time!

If we can provide the same standard of customer service via our online store, I believe that we will be able to increase the number of Wazuka tea fans nationwide! Granted now it’s just a standard online store, I'm constantly thinking of new ways to convey the appeal of tea. Distributing the information so it’s not just easy-to-understand but fun as well!

Being able to communicate effectively with customers online is one of the things I want to focus on this year. I will work towards making it one of the most interesting websites on tea, so please do visit our homepage regularly!

d:matcha news(by Daiki.T)

There are various ways to enjoy Japanese tea depending on the cultivar, the fields the tea leaves are harvested from, and the processing method. At the moment however, there is no standard guide (unlike the wine industry) that makes it easy for consumers to understand. While there are numerous sources of information on Japanese tea, including Japanese tea instructors and tea industry encyclopedias, most of these are solely in Japanese.

We are preparing to launch a tea school focusing on Japanese tea so consumers and professionals from multiple countries who make a living from tea, will be empowered with the necessary knowledge needed on Japanese tea. I am currently writing a book, and I am also preparing a classroom for workshops in Wazuka Town. Given the current situation, it is difficult to invite foreigners to Wazuka but I am thinking of doing what I can do now through other alternatives such as videos and online courses.

In order to get feedback on the effectiveness of such a program and its content, we invited YouTubers Jun and Rachel to produce a video on Wazuka. I'm really looking forward to its release!

February 2021 Newsletter - d:matcha Kyoto