Update from d:matcha’s tea fields: Two different key methods of pruning the tea fields by Aka.H
Why do the tea fields have a different shade of green? This is a question often asked by customers who come to visit Wazuka Town. If you are viewing the tea fields from a distance, you will realise that even neighbouring tea fields are different. There are several factors that contribute to this and I will explain more below.
Bud growth: The new buds and leaves are a yellowish-green color and the green color turns to a deeper shade as the leaves mature. This will also allow you to tell the difference of the ages of the leaves.
Cultivated Variety: The cultivated variety of the tea may be different even though they are from the same plant. Samidori is a Kyoto cultivar with a lighter green color, while okumidori has a darker texture..
Fertilisation Method: Even if the tea trees are of the same cultivar, the amount or type of nitrogen-based fertiliser can change the colour of the tea leaves, especially the amount of chlorophyll produced. Some farmers do not use fertiliser, which is the reason some tea leaves turn yellow due to the lack of nitrogen.
Other than these reasons, the type of soil, potential diseases, insects, and amount of exposure to sunlight can affect the colour of the tea leaves. After reading my article I think it will be more interesting to look at the tea farms again.
Limited pop-up store at Tokyo's ecute Ueno by Natsuki
Every year from December to Spring, d:matcha travels out of Wazuka Town to sell our desserts at different pop-up stores. Last month we were in Ueno, Tokyo, at a mall Ecute Ueno. This was our first time selling in the Tokyo area so we were worried but we were able to sell our products more than we expected to.
Thanks to all of our customers we were able to finish our special event that lasted for two weeks as a success. I myself went to Ueno and was able to communicate with the guests who arrived.
Many people in Tokyo love matcha and they were delighted to hear that we make matcha sweets made from our own farm. We were only there for two weeks but there were some customers who came multiple times. I was able to learn from guests outside of Wazuka Town and travel to other regions.
Last month gave me a new goal for the future: to keep sharing delicious tea sweets out of Wazuka Town to other regions in Japan. For our next event in Tokyo, we are planning to sell our products from late March till early April. See you this spring!
In the midst of winter by Ryhan
Two years have passed since I have been able to see my family, my cats, and friends in person. In that time I have missed many joyous occasions such as births, weddings, anniversaries. I was also absent from moments of sadness such as death, during which I could only send my condolences from afar. Furthermore, the drastic dip in temperature has done little to bolster the emptiness, only making it more profound.
While mulling on these thoughts, I rediscovered a quote by French philosopher Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger - something better, pushing right back.”
Reading this again, I think it’s a timely reminder that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging these low moments and speaking openly about it. As long as you try your hardest, in earnest, the little steps you take to move forward in the right direction will make you mentally stronger. Of course you should also learn to choose the things and people that make you feel your best. As well as showing kindness to those whose struggles may not be outwardly expressed.
If you are lucky to be together with your loved ones, take the time to connect with them over a cup of tea and remember to give them an extra tight hug!
Recycling expired tea leaves by Azusa.U
Have you ever had the experience of not knowing what to do with your tea leaves after the expiration date has passed? There are in fact many useful ways of recycling them! I would like to share with you some of these tips that you can try at home.
Making a tea mask: Mix the old tea leaves with flour and knead gently with water. Once the mixture has reached an even texture, spread it evenly on your face. The Vitamin C, theanine, and chlorophyll will help to rejuvenate your skin, as well as speed up metabolism and tackle dullness.
Brew a tea bath: Soak in the tub with the expired tea leaves, which can help you to unwind and tackle skin issues.
As a cleaning agent: Place the old tea leaves into a pot and pour in boiling water. Pour the brew on your cutting boards before rinsing again thoroughly. This can help you to disinfect the boards and remove any access bacteria.
As an air freshener: Roast the old tea leaves in a frying pan and this will help to deodorise your kitchen. You could also heat the old tea leaves in the microwave to remove any smell. Alternatively you can place the leaves in chest drawers as this deters smell and potential pests. Since the olden days, the Japanese have scattered old tea leaves on tatami mats to help with deodorising and removing bacteria.
I hope that these tips will help you recycle your old tea leaves in a fun way!
The main dish in tea ceremonies - Koicha (Part I) by Seiya.H
I think everyone is familiar with matcha that has a light green color. This type of matcha is called usucha or thin tea. Recently this type of tea is more common but matcha is originally referred to as koicha or thick tea. The texture and color of koicha is also different as compared to usucha. Today I will like to talk about the difference between these two types of matcha and how to brew koicha.
Koicha is the main dish in formal Japanese tea ceremonies known as chaji. Koicha has a very dark green color that is even darker than tea leaves. The texture of the brew is similar to that of thick soup. Usucha uses 60ml of hot water and approximately 1.75 grams of matcha. On the other hand, koicha uses 25ml of hot water and 3.75 grams of tea.
Usucha focuses on achieving a foamy frappuccino-like brew but koicha needs you to slowly mix the matcha with hot water to form a brew similar to heavy cream. Most high quality matcha can be used to make koicha but lower quality matcha is likely to be too bitter and not appropriate brewing for koicha. Another key difference between both types of matcha is that usucha is served in one tea bowl per guest while koicha is served to a few guests (two to four) per tea bowl.
Chado or the way of tea has a teaching that “Everyone is equal” and in the tea room, social status or age does not matter as they all share the same tea with the same tea bowl. At first I was shocked to drink my first koicha but now I love to drink it anytime when I have the chance. I recommend gokou for koicha so please give it a try and enjoy!
(Part four) Establishing d:matcha: Learning from the wine industry by Misato.T
While Daiki was studying in Boston, we decided to conduct research on the wine industry because our advisers from the scholarship organisation advised us to study wine if we were going to start a tea business. This was a huge learning point for us. We studied in depth the similarities between wine and tea, as well as how the wine industry has advanced as compared to the tea industry.
One common thing between wine and tea is that they share a deep history based on the culture they originated from. Wine has a deep history known as “Christian blood” and has been partonaged by everyone in Europe before eventually spreading out all over the world.
Japanese tea culture focuses on buddhism and zen training and it was an important beverage used by key historical figures. The more knowledge and information is shared, the more consumers are interested and are keen to learn more.
The wine industry uses a lot of innovative ideas when it comes to sharing with consumers the information on each brand and how the wine was produced. The labels on wine bottles are also very strict when it comes to what details should be displayed. For example, it is necessary to show the farm the grapes originated from and when it was produced. Before the wines are sold to the masses, wine sommeliers must first taste and rate the wine with a score. Experts however, claim that the market distribution price and the score may not always be the same.
By chance, when Daiki was tutoring Japanese, one of his students, Tony, was a manager for a wine importing company. Thanks to Tony we were able to gain more knowledge and receive invaluable advice from him.
Reusing tea leaves into shopping bags and d:matcha's pop-up store at ecute Ueno by Daiki.T
I would like to thank everyone for coming to the Tokyo ecute event in Ueno from December 6th to 22nd.
I am originally from Tokyo so I was extremely excited to sell tea made in Wazuka Town. The good news is that we will be having another event again this spring!
For this event we came up with a new original branded bag for d:matcha. This bag is made from recycling used tea leaves. D:matcha Kyoto has always been focused on organic and pesticide-free cultivation. We are also working to take on more abandoned tea fields to help preserve the landscape of Wazuka Town.
We adopted this idea by learning from our counterpart, the tea company Itouen, which has been recycling their used tea leaves to produce plastic tea bottles. While the processing cost was slightly high, we believe this is worth it. These paper bags are not only made from recycled tea leaves, but we used biomass paper which is more economical.
There may not be a huge impact if it is just our company but nonetheless we hope to deliver our message to our customers and the world. We would like to try more activities similar to these!