January 2021 Newsletter
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 ）
The compatibility of organic fertilisers with a tea field has often been a topic of discussion amongst tea farmers. We are also still learning how to visualise the decomposition process of the organic fertilisers, as well as finding new ways to understand how the materials are eventually absorbed by the tea.
Before the minerals in the soil can be absorbed by the tea trees, the fertilisers are first broken down by the microorganisms in the soil. During this decomposition process, the fertiliser will experience a change of state from its organic to inorganic. This being said, the diversity of the microorganisms found in the soil of our tea fields play a crucial role in cultivating tea of quality.
I feel that the use of organic fertilisers somehow naturally attracts desirable microorganisms to take up residence in our tea fields. For example, as you can see in the picture on the right, we can usually find earthworms of this size in our tea fields! These friendly critters help to aerate the soil, while at the same time enhancing the soil’s properties.
All of these numerous biological elements come together and work in a never ending cycle. Through our work on the fields in Wazuka, I can truly feel the richness of nature every day.
D:matcha’s staff’s tea life（by Natsuki）
Almost two years have passed since I first started attending various tea ceremony sessions around Kyoto. I usually attend these sessions three times a month. Previously I would only prepare the tea however as the seasons change, I have found myself motivated to learn more. This includes learning how to prepare the tea room or space for the ceremony, as well as the procedures for preparing the tools to be used.
During the lesson, if I am out of focus or distracted by other thoughts, I find myself making a mistake in the tea brewing procedures. When my mind is calm and stable, I am able to use the tools gracefully. I have since realised that while it may be easy to grasp the proper procedure for brewing tea, the state of your heart will affect the taste of your tea. In 2021, I would like to
continue practicing my tea brewing techniques and brew delicious tea for everyone who comes to visit us in Wazuka.
For some it may just be a cup of tea, but for me I feel that through this cup we are able to have a sincere connection and conversation with my customers. I am waiting for you!
Aiming for sustainable agriculture（by Chisei.T）
Since the summer I have been using tea leaves as a supplementary fertiliser for my homegrown turmeric. This December, it was finally time for me to harvest the fruits of my labour! Harvesting turmeric means harvesting the roots or rhizomes, which is the edible portion of the plant. After the roots are harvested and dried, they are then ground into powder. This powder will then be used for curry in our store.
Although the experiment of using tea leaves as fertiliser was successful, I was unable to harvest enough turmeric needed to make curry in our store. Therefore my goal for next year is to produce enough turmeric to do so!
New Year's in Japan（by Saki.N）
Did you know that the first pot of tea of the year is often only brewed on the 10th of January? I suppose you could view this tea ceremony as a New Year’s party of sorts for the tea itself! Most of the time, this is also the first major event of the year for Japanese tea ceremony schools.
Hanabiramochi (葩餅) or flower petal mochi is one of the most popular confectionery served with the tea. The rice cake is known for its rounded diamond-like shape, with a white exterior and red centre peeking through the middle. The centre is filled with white miso bean paste and a sweetly boiled burdock root. In ancient times, hanabiramochi was also served as part of the New Year feast in the palace.
The confectionery served alongside this first pot of tea however, varies. For example at Omotesenke, Tokiwa Manju is served, while at Urasenke, hanabiramochi (pictured) is preferred. The brightly coloured confectionery allows you to truly soak in the vibrancy of the New Year.
Each component in the ceremony blends perfectly together to represent genuine wishes for a year ahead filled with longevity and prosperity.
A cup of warm tea in winter（by Ryhan）
Coming from a perpetually sunny and tropical island, the one aspect of life in Japan I am still getting used to is the nuances around the change in seasons. For example, the significance of the winter solstice, which was on the 21st of December, never crossed my mind till now.
This day or â€œ冬至 Touji” in Japanese, also officially marks the start of winter. The tradition goes as such: take a soak in a yuzu hot bath on this auspicious day to avoid catching a cold for the rest of the season.
Working around tea in the cold also reminded me of this woodblock painting by Hokusai-sensei. While most of you may know him for the “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, I feel that his “Morning after the Snow at Koishikawa in Edo” is equally poignant. The image depicts a group enjoying the view of Mount Fuji on a winter day from an elevated teahouse. Given that temperatures have already reached -3°C in Wazuka, I’m sure we’ll be able to enjoy similar sights this new year.
New Year's tea（by Misato.T）
What type of tea will you be drinking at home this New Year?
Personally I would recommend indulging in a cup of tea that is of a higher grade or a little more expensive than your usual brew. This will enable you to enjoy a fresh and renewed feeling. In fact, brewing Gyokuro or high-quality matcha will also allow you to experience these emotions.
In Kyoto, it is customary to drink tea known as “大服茶 or Oobukucha”. Oobuku tea can also be enjoyed with the addition of kelp or umeboshi to the tea. Umeboshi means "until wrinkles", which means longevity, and kelp means "joyful = happy", both of which are auspicious foods. The nutritional components of the tea are strengthened by adding citric acid from umeboshi and amino acid components from kelp to the healthy ingredients of sencha.
In historical times, when a plaque broke out in Kyoto during the middle of the Heian period (951AD), Kuya Shonin of Kyoto Rokuharamitsuji distributed this tea to the common people. The plague eventually subsided. People in the old days also studied combinations by mixing tea with other foods. Why don't you enjoy the tea according to the season!
d:matcha news（by Daiki.T）
In December 2020, we finally made an outdoor terrace seating area in the parking lot of our Wazuka store.
During the conceptualisation of the seating area, the key word we had in mind was "mobility". From Spring to Autumn, the weather in Wazuka is pleasant for outdoor activities. In winter however, it gets extremely cold and most people (including us) would prefer to stay indoors. Initially I was quite reluctant to utilise the limited parking space that we have as our customers usually drive down on the weekends in spring. With this in mind we decided to make the counter seat movable. The tent on the structure will also protect the area from the sun and rain.
On a good day you’ll be able to soak in the views of the tea plantations on Mount Kamatsuka, as well as the boundless rice fields at your own time. We are waiting for you to enjoy this view with us in Wazuka!