Febuary 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 part④
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.
Sometimes I come across tea leaves that look like it snowed during the summer season.
Right after the harvesting season the rainy season comes to Wazuka. This rainy season comes between a cool or chilly spring and hot summer.
This hot humid environment gave us an unusual scene. Some leaves develop white dots that are inflated into a shape of a dome. We call this situation mochi-disease because the dome shape looks like a mochi and this disease can be seen in tea plants and azalea.
This occurs when basidiomycete (which is a type of mold) penetrates into the leaves and often can be seen during humid rainy seasons.
As you can see in this picture, this farm is covered with white mochi-disease.
We have pesticides to avoid these diseases but for pesticide-free farms like us, we have no choice, especially Okumidori (the farm in this picture) which has almost no resistance to mochi-disease. This farm does not get enough sunlight due to its location. All these reasons can easily cause mochi-disease which looks like snow during summer. We d:matcha avoid the second harvest by cutting down the tree deeply.
It may sound mystical but this is not happy news at all because this disease only gives us bad influence.
Chocolate made by cultivars from Kyoto（by Seiya.H)
Since last month we’ve been preparing for this year's valentine sale by creating new chocolate!
Last year we used nine different tea cultivars from Japan and created matcha chocolate, but this year we collected cultivars only from Kyoto. We have four cultivars that are the same from last year which are Samidori, Gokou, Tenmyou and Asahi, and the new five cultivars are Ujihikari, Ujimidori, Houshun, Zairai and Kyouken283. All are going to be assorted in one box.
They all look identical and it is hard to identify them all but when you taste them each cultivar has their own unique sweetness, bitterness or other texture. Right after producing, we tried each piece and even tried to guess the right cultivar without looking at the answer. This was a great experience to know about the difference and strong points in each matcha.
All of the chocolate in this box has a density of 24% matcha which is about five time more than average matcha chocolate. Each chocolate is about six grams which means 1.5 grams of matcha which is close to the amount with drinking matcha. This is why this chocolate has a different name, Edible Matcha. We use the same grade of matcha as drinkable ones that we sell in the store so this helps with the color and shininess of the chocolate.
January was month where we challenged ourselves into new flavour right after the stone mill was done grinding matcha. I was always excited about what the new cultivars taste like.
Please enjoy each cultivar one by one!
My personal recommendation is Ujihikari. This cultivar was shiny from powder style and it remained the same when using it for other confectionary.
Matcha beauty recipe No.9（by Natsuki)
I would like to introduce a new matcha recipe that is simple and enjoyable
My ninth recipe will be Hot matcha chocolate latte that is enjoyable during Valentine season.
・2 grams of matcha Gokou(first flush)
・3 matcha chocolates (normal white chocolate is fine also)
・200ml of milk
・1 tablespoon of hot water
- Filter the matcha on top of the tea bowl and melt the matcha with boiling hot water.
- Add milk and matcha chocolate into the tea bowl and heat in the microwave for a minute.
- The chocolate is melted in the bottom so stir well with a stir stick.
▶The chocolate itself is sweet so children can even enjoy the latte. I like to add cinnamon flakes on top of this beverage.
▶If you don’t have matcha chocolate then add more matcha to your bowl and add white chocolate. White chocolate makes the beverage more beautiful than dark chocolate.
Happy Valentine's Day!
d:matcha’s Japanese style sweets (by Ko.Y）
This sweets in the photo is called Kingyokukan「錦玉羹」which is made from gelatin, sugar and starch syrup melted and hardened into a mold shape. We put thick matcha with chestnut toffee.
During the Edo period (1603~1868) Kingyokukan「金玉羹」was the common name and as time passed the name turned into Kingyokukan「錦玉羹」or Kohakukan「琥珀羹」.
The faint tea color is beautiful in these sweets along with the clear Kingyokukan coated around the matcha and chestnut.
I’m almost finished with my first year in d:matcha. There were many things to learn every day and I want to improve my skills to create more delicious sweets.
d:matcha Establishment part⑱～Cultural exchange program of d:matcha and Stanford MBA students（3）～（by Misato.T)
Nate is an Asian-American who came to d:matcha during our second summer.
He was a superior student and had a long list of what he wanted to eat in Japan.
Nate quickly understood what we needed to improve and he created tasks that needed to be done while he was in Japan.
Most Stanford students find their own business scope which is a skill as superior students.
Nate mainly focused on creating a foreign e-commerce website. He thought d:matcha had the potential to sell our products out of Japan but we didn’t have the resources to create a foreign e-commerce.
While suggesting us new plans to start a platform, Nate himself created an e-commerce website from scratch. The website was elegant also because Nate also learned about designing but still he finished the whole thing in a week so we were astonished with his speedy skills also.
Nate also had a cute side along with his high skills. He loved Japanese food and he always happily enjoyed our meals and bread we created for him. We tried to give Nate as many meals as possible since Nate always complimented on how delicious our cooking was. Nate was worried about gaining weight since Japanese food was so irresistible.
During his off days Nate travelled around Japan to complete his long list of foods (must have been more that 40 types) that he wanted to eat while in Japan. He was so ignited with passion he completed his list in just two weeks. Thanks to his love towards food we were able to interact with Nate in no time.
We are always happy to work with Stanfored students because not only they are intelligent and full of skills but they are sympathetic kind students. Their imagination to help others, teamwork, and personality might be in their university study program.
(This English website was created by Nate)
Japanese Tea Selection （by Daiki.T）
This year we entered three different kinds of organic tea, Matcha Okumidori, Sencha Gokou shaded for 16 days and Sencha Okumidori shaded for 14 days.
Thankfully, matcha Okumidori received the bronze award and sencha Gokou shaded for 16 days received the silver award. These tea are originally produced for everyone to enjoy instead of competitive fairs so we are very delighted to recieve this award.
（The photo on the left is Aka (white shirt) and I (Tanaka).）
（The tea on the right is from the Okumidori farm right in front of our new store.)
What makes us more happy is that we are competing at a level where every tea can enter (instead of organic tea only level). I myself thought this year’s sencha Gokou was the best timing to harvest. The timing to harvest is very important when it comes to maintaining quality. Yubune has a good climate for farming thanks to its cold land that makes the baby leaves grow very slowly so we have more days to harvest the tea field. This year we want to respect the natural environment and try out sensor technology to analyse our tea situation and approach to our goal.
I was surprised that most of the top ranked tea for this Japanese Tea Selection came from the Kyushu Area (This area includes Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kagoshima and other southern prefectures) Kyushu are developing new tea area at a huge rate. They also are quickly challenging themselves to organic farming and tea with a strong aroma which is often enjoyed by foreigners.
d:matcha is also trying to learn by looking at our data analysis, keep improving our errors and keep being proactive and try to produce more delicious tea for customers.