March 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 part⑤
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.
Please take a look at the photo(①) that was caused by a certain organisim
This photo was taken right before harvesting tencha. You could see the dead leaves damaged due to pests eating the leaves and these can occur for pesticide free farms. The photo(②) however shows green leaves that have grown enough. I remember I was surprised to come across the yellow leaves when I first flipped over the coating material covering the tea leaves. These damage are caused by a certain pest called leaf hopper (Unka in Japanese). The shape looks like a small cicada.These pests sting their mouths into the small pulses and suck the sap out. The stab wound and the absorbed sap causes illness and lack of energy. Leaf hoppers are a good example of leaves being damaged during the end of first flush and the beginning of second flush and they can damage the leaves so much it is impossible to harvest.
Kettle and ro for certain seasons（by Seiya.H)
Chado (way of tea) has two big seasons called furo (May to October) and ro (November to April). For ro season we have a hole in the middle of the room called ro and we boil the kettle in the ro. However there are different kinds of kettle and ro that are only used during a certain month.
Feburary is known to be freezing cold season so we use a wider ro so we can see the charcoal fire better. We also use a kettle that has a wider lid during February.
The size of the ro is back to normal but in March and April we don’t use a utensil called a trivet which is a metal object that supports the kettle in the ash.
There is a hook from the ceiling and the chain hangs the kettle like the photo below.
During this timing it has been four months after first putting ash in the ro so we try not to press down the ash with the kettle so hanging the kettle became the option.
April・Sukigi gama（Kettle with wood）
We place a small block of wood on both sides of the ro and the kettle will be supported by the woods. These kettles are flatter and wider and the sides of the kettle have a surface that is used for being placed on the wood. This kettle avoids the heat of charcoal from the guests since this time of year is often warmer and we are preparing for furo season.
I have been taking tea lessons for several years but I’ve only come across these kettles only a few times. The procedure for each kettle is different so we need to forget about the original procedure and bring back the memory from last year during lessons.
However some lessons do not prepare these kinds of kettle and even if they do we might only focus on simple style so it is very lucky to come across these kettles!
Matcha beauty recipe No.10（by Natsuki)
I would like to introduce a new matcha recipe that is simple and enjoyable
My tenth recipe will be otherwise known as the partner for rice ball, matcha furikake flakes with rice bran!
・Two tablespoon of matcha Yabukita
・1:1 ratio of rice bran and coarse salt
- Use the frying pan without oil to roast the coarse salt and rice bran.
- After heating for 10 minutes, add matcha and roast on the frying pan.
★You are ready once you taste the mild taste instead of sharp salt.
I will also recommend meals when you want to add a bit more salt.
It is okay to roast it on the stove.
I like to enjoy this furikake with boiled conger. Good with sake!
I love to enjoy it with rice balls for breakfast!
【Development Story 】
▶Since we harvest rice also, we try to create our original matcha furikake. Rice bran is created from leftovers of polished rice and it is full of Vitamin E and mineral and other nutrients. So why not use it! Pouring the bran on rice makes a great nutrient balance.
After roasting you can store it in a jar for a long time.
Please try this at home if you have a rice polishing machine!
The origin of matcha ice cream (by Ko.Y）
↑ This is d:matcha’s matcha ice cream cake.
A seasonal cake only in summer.
We have discovered a recipe on ice cream cake that was created during the 1870’s. During the Victorian period this dessert was called bom. It was originally created from biscuit cream and the ice cream and fruits were frozen by a certain mold.
Ice came to Japan during the Meiji period’s civilization enlightenment (around the 1870’s). During the Taisho period (1912~1926) industrialization proceeded and ice cream was enjoyed in many families.
When was matcha ice cream first produced?
During the summer of 1912, Emperor Meiji (1952~1912) was getting very ill so ice cream was delivered to him. At that time, Hiranoen which was the oldest tea store in Ginza, Tokyo, produced matcha ice cream. Even now you can still enjoy the same matcha and the matcha ice cream that was gifted to the emperor.
d:matcha Establishment part⑲～Cultural exchange program of d:matcha and Stanford MBA students（4）～（by Misato.T)
Sawyer (on the left) tried tea harvesting along with the farmer lady on the right.
Sawyer was originally from the American Airforce and came as an intern from Stanford University. He mainly was in charge of strategy and support.
Sawyer wanted to start his own business after graduating Stanford and he wanted to experience Startup Family Business so he came during our third summer.
Sawyer gave us ideas on the subscription platform. Subscription was a popular topic that was also a task from the MBA at the time. Sawyer applied his skills to d:matcha. First he helped us with creating the price, system, website page and leaflet. Thanks to that, customers who came on our tour were able to request a subscription.
Most of the intern students like to visit the city like Kyoto and Osaka and are very excited to sightsee Japan but Sawyer didn’t like crowded places so he didn’t walk around much.
Every night when Sawyer had dinner with us, he asked us a lot of questions about the difference of culture between Japan and America and the uniqueness of Japan and its business.
Japan is known to be almost a homogeneous nation but America is multiethnic country. We talked about why Japan uses cash more than credit cards, how tradition is being maintained, ageing society, communism way of thinking, original financial policy and so many more themes were discussed during dinner.
One topic I was impressed on was about equality.
America is known to respect ex-army members and have more support when it comes to social status and opportunity. Stanford MBA also is supportive for ex-army members to enter as students (of course not everyone), however there were opinions that it is not fair to other students that ex-army members have better support to enter Stanford.
Top schools in America (Stanford included) have many point of views when choosing their students. The background of students will affect achievements and adequacy. Also the donation, economic situation and America’s diplomatic political situation can affect the student’s background.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question “What is equality” but I enjoy having these kinds of conversations with students from Stanford. Japanese and Americans have their own values and opinions which makes us learn more about each other.
While Sawyer was in d:matcha, his wife came to visit us also! She and I were both pregnant at the time and we all took photos in front of the store.
What a handsome and beautiful couple! Sawyer’s son (on the right) was born in September after returning to America.
We had a competition on who was the strongest in arm wrestling.
Singapore Isetan （by Daiki.T）
On February 24th, 2023 d:matcha challenged ourselves for the first time out of Japan in a special event store. We first went to Isetan department store in Singapore and I was very excited and nervous at the same time.
I was first anxious about the selling price. This is the same with all Japanese goods but all the prices increase because we need to include the refrigerated cargo transportation fee. We are still on a good level thanks to the weak yen and the difference in cost of living but I still wonder if our goods will be interesting to everyone in Singapore since our sweets are not cheap even when selling in Japan. For frozen sweets, we needed to ship them away by the beginning of December in order to be prepared for February. I was worried about what if we have left overs.
However this turned out as a great success!
What made me very happy was there were some customers who once came to our store in Kyoto. It made me think positively on having a continuous relationship and keep moving on in the same business.
When I served tasting to new guests everyone loved our sweets (especially our Fondant Chocolat and Rollcake) and complimented that they were not too sweet and can enjoy the strong taste of matcha.
I was surprised many customers were requesting tea leaves instead of sweets so next time when I go to Singapore I would like to bring new tea leaves that we are planning to harvest in a few months!