June 2021 Newsletter
Thank you for your continued support! We're extremely grateful to have you as part of our tea-loving family. Here are some of the updates from Wazuka as told by the team. We hope that you and your loved ones are safe together, wherever you may be.
An update from d:matcha's tea fields（by Aka）
Our harvest for rolled Japanese green tea (i.e. sencha, kabusecha, and gyokuro, among others) is almost completed! Out of all the tea harvested, the most memorable moment for me was when we were harvesting our gyokuro.
Every year our gyokuro is harvested from the same gokou tea field. The cultivar gokou is an especially difficult cultivar to handle as the time frame between when the young sprouts are ready to be harvested and when they harden is extremely short. Determining the timing of the harvest is always a challenge. Thus we try our best to harvest the young shoots before they harden because if not, the end result would be a tea with a very harsh aroma.
To produce gyokuro the tea leaves also have to be shaded but instead of covering the leaves directly, the black gauze cloth is hung from a special rack built around the field. In doing so, the tea leaves grow well, without any interference such as the gauze cloth rubbing against the shoots. This difference was especially noticeable when we compared our gokou tea fields that were directly shaded with the gyokuro specific tea field.
A different perspective（by Natsuki）
This year I was lucky to have the opportunity to help with the tea harvesting three times! As a sales staff, I am usually stationed in the store so I do not have a lot of chances to help out in the fields. During the harvesting process I could clearly see the differences between each tea field and each tea cultivar. Needless to say it was very interesting to see the different characteristics of each field shine.
One particular harvest day that stuck out for me was when it was raining. The rain made walking through the tea fields difficult and furthermore the tea field was located on a steep slope. During harvesting I also realised that the aroma of the field and soil changed depending on the fertiliser used. The fresh aroma of the leaves was especially prominent during the harvesting process! The condition of the young shoots were also different according to how they were cultivated.
I feel that there are experiences you accumulate only once you’ve been out on the field. This experience has definitely increased my love for brewing tea, and I can’t wait to share this with my customers!
Aiming for sustainable agriculture（by Chisei.T）
This month we saw the kick-off of two new projects! For the first project we planted the legume ‘hairy vetch” (seeds pictured on the right). We hope that these legumes will be able to form a symbiotic relationship with our tea trees by acting as a fertiliser for other plants and by increasing the amount of nitrogen in the soil.
The second project is the start of our brown rice plantations. The brown rice planted in these fields will be used for the production of our genmaicha and confectionery. As this is my first time, I am working hard to produce the rice while constantly asking for guidance from the elders in the village. As the population starts to age I would like to do my best to preserve the landscape through our effort.
Bringing tea to life（by Ryhan）
Unknown to many, the preparation for the first harvest of the year begins the year before. Similarly at d:matcha, once we have finished with the first harvest for this season, our preparations for next year’s first harvest will immediately begin. This intense planning and dedication speaks of the unspoken and unnoticed mental fatigue tea farmers consciously undertake.
Of course when we’re producing tea for the current season, all our effort and concentration is focused on the now. When the time comes however, whether or not the harvested tea has lived up to our expectations, this process has now been completed. While it is perfectly fine to look back and appreciate something that you’ve crafted, farming has taught me that it is also important to keep moving forward. The courage to keep inventing and testing new techniques lies in knowing that you have yet to create your best possible product. Even if you think you have, you know there is a likelihood for the next harvest to be even better.
In Studio Ghibli’s 猫の恩返し, which was directed by Morita Hiroyuki-sensei, the character フンベルト said this: “Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul.” I hope that as you indulge in the new tea for the season, appreciate it like you would with any form of art - slowly and with care. At the end of the day, farmers I suppose are artists in their own right; striving to bring out as much life and depth of their crops as possible.
The relationship between rain and tea（by Azusa.U）
The Kinki region will soon enter the rainy season, which is said to be the earliest it has ever been since 1951. Prior to the announcement however, I personally felt that the weather was quite different from previous years. I then wondered how the growth of the tea trees will be affected so I decided to read more about it!
Studies have shown that if it rains heavily during the harvest season, the taste of the tea will be less full-bodied. The drastic increase in water levels encourages the tea trees to grow rapidly and as a result the distance between the leaves (internodes) also increases. This growth implies that the cell size of the tea leaves increases, spreading the polyphenols and minerals over a larger surface area. This vigorous growth also restores the mineral levels of the tea to it’s primary levels thus affecting and lowering the quality.
Aside from tea, apples, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries among others, also lose their sweetness if there is too much rain during the harvest season. In other words, crops that are cultivated in open fields experience the same phenomena. Another thing that I found interesting was that birds seldom feast on crops after heavy rain because they are aware the taste of the produce is likely to be affected.
The perfect Father's day gift（by Misato.T）
Did you know that many men also enjoy the taste of tea? While the usual perception is that women enjoy tea time more, in reality we almost have an equal number of male customers who come to our Wazuka Town store to enjoy our sencha!
There are various ways to enjoy your Japanese green tea. For example you either turn it into a cold brew to quench your thirst or pair it with sweets to bring out the flavour. Some customers also like to brew sencha slowly and up to three times. As sencha is a very delicate drink, learning different ways to brew it can also be a fun experience!
From that point of view, I’d like to recommend giving sencha as a gift on Father's Day. This year we have also crafted a special comparison set with sake. I'm sure your father will be pleased with the comparison of drinking Japanese green tea and liquor!