May 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）
While tea enthusiasts or those working in the tea industry may be aware of the term “two leaves and one bud”, how many of us are aware of its origins? The phrase was first coined to emphasise on the number of nodes on a young shoot, as well as the weight of the young shoots. The weight of harvested leaves can be viewed from two different perspectives: a large quantity of small leaves or a small quantity of large leaves. This term was also used to describe the condition of different fields and how they should be harvested. Cultivated varieties or cultivars with a higher node-count are often characterised as possessing more umami.
The number of nodes on a young shoot is decided at the time of growth. In other words, the length to which the sprout directly correlates with the number of nodes. This number can be affected by factors such as the vitality of a tea tree, the amount of fertiliser used, as well as how well the tea trees are managed. Once all the young sprouts have unfolded and grown, the leaves will start to harden.
Tea trees with a higher node-count are more suitable for the production of shaded tea such as tencha. To produce tencha, the tea trees have to be shaded for a minimum of three weeks. This process may sometimes even extend beyond a month. To endure the long shading process, the hardening process has to be delayed. With more nodes, the growth period of the young shoots are also extended.
The development of beau-tea sweets（by Natsuki）
Shortcakes and sweets are delicious, but don’t you feel a bit guilty sometimes after eating too many? I admit that I do! Especially after looking at the recipes used to produce these delicious confectioneries, I realised that a large amount of sugar is always used. Thus I have been focused on producing sweets that are healthy for your body, highlights the flavour of tea, and does not use any sugar! The first recipe I tried was a “Vegan sencha energy bar”! The main ingredients were: brown rice, oatmeal, nuts, coconut oil, coconut milk, peanut butter, and maple syrup.
The final product was an energy bar that was extremely easy to eat. Although the texture was light and crisp, the maple syrup brought out a gentle sweet flavour that complimented the other ingredients. If you’re looking for a more traditional Japanese substitute for sugar, amazake can also be used. I was delighted that even my colleagues enjoyed the snack! I am going to continue researching and producing sweets that are good for your body. Hopefully we’ll be able to sell them in store one day!
Aiming for sustainable agriculture（by Chisei.T）
In last month’s newsletter, I spoke briefly about sowing legumes to be used as fertiliser for our tea fields however, due to the persisting cold weather, I have had to postpone the sowing process till next month. In the meantime, I will share with you the planting process for legumes!
The legumes that we will be planting is called “Hairy Vetch”. Hairy vetch or vicia villosa, is a commonly planted legume due to its innately high nitrogen fixation rate and allelopathic tendencies. This means that the hairy vetch can effectively make the nitrogen in the air usable for plants, and it also suppresses the germination of other weeds.
Aside from these two key points, I also feel that the hairy vetch is suitable for tea because the legume’s ability to naturally produce cyanamide, which is then converted into dicyanamide. Dicyanamide has the ability to suppress nitrifying bacteria, which decomposes ammonia nitrogen into nitrate nitrogen. Unlike most vegetables, tea trees absorb nitrogen more readily when it is in an ionised form (NH4).
The future of farming（by Ryhan）
Agriculture is one of the main sources of income for millions of people in the Asia Pacific. The region is home to the world’s largest food market, producing an estimated 19% of global food and agriculture exports. Moreover, the majority of small-scale farmers within the region feed approximately 70% of the world’s population. A key challenge for the sector is the constant strain to meet rising market demand. There are also threats in the form of environmental factors, including the effects of climate change on farming resources and the fickle nature of globalised food trends.
While I was still working as a researcher these issues seemed far removed. Especially when you’re sitting comfortably in an airconditioned office. The truth is that farming is not a glamorous job. The effort and time is never in equilibrium with the rewards, be it monetary or yield. I feel that farmers however, do the work they do because they have an innate sense of appreciation for nature. If anything, my respect for farmers has grown in the last year, and I am motivated to look into new ways of keeping their livelihood sustainable.
To end I will leave you with a quote from Jill Isenbarger (Chief of Staff at the United Nations Foundation): “Farming is a difficult endeavour and an arduous undertaking at best, yet farming remains one of the most important, tangible, and meaningful things one can do to improve human and environmental health and community well-being. And it is vital to our future.”
The language of flowers（by Azusa.U）
Hello, nice to meet you! My name is Azusa Urano and I officially joined d:matcha as a full-time staff member in April. Prior to this I was a part-timer and often helped out at d:matcha’s pop-up stores at Kintetsu Department Store and Isetan Kyoto. I look forward to working with everyone.
Since high school, I have always been interested in agriculture. In fact I recently graduated from the Faculty in Agriculture in March! I love flowers and nature. My hobby includes taking a stroll and taking pictures of flowers that are blooming on the roadside. I also enjoy researching the different names of the flowers, as well as the meanings behind them. In Japanese 花言葉 or â€œhanakotoba” means the language of flowers. Each flower is associated with a symbolic meaning. Although the word flower is used, this term also extends to different cultivars of grass, trees, and mushrooms.
Tea trees are an evergreen tea of the genus camellia. The flowers bloomed from tea trees are white and often emerge from October till early December. The hanakotoba of the tea tree’s flower means pure love and recollection. xThe yellow stamens that are gently wrapped in white petals signifies a pure innocent love that is unabashed. While the colour of the flowers is tied with the nostalgia it may evoke from the viewer.
Often when I look at the camellia sinensis’ flowers I think back on my childhood, and all the times when I was naughty or playing outside.The temperature is slowly growing warmer and I can see flowers of all types blooming in Wazuka. While it might be difficult for us to travel during this period, I am patiently waiting for the day to see everyone again!
Wazuka Town Emigration Promotion Project（by Misato.T）
In my previous newsletter article I spoke briefly about the online event held for those interested in moving to Wazuka. This event made me very happy because including myself, several people have moved to Wazuka because they are fascinated by the town’s charm. I thought that for this month’s article I could share with you some of my favourite parts about Wazuka:
Charm # 1: Beautiful scenery that you will get tired of
Unknown to many, Wazuka is officially registered as "The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan". It is a great joy to be able to live while seeing the beautiful scenery of nature that you will never get tired of.
Charm # 2: Despite being into the countryside, Wazuka is extremely accessible
Within an hour’s drive you will be able to reach Kyoto City, as well as other prefectures such as Nara, Osaka, Shiga, annd Mie. Furthermore, big shopping centres are located within thirty minutes. Despite being in the countryside, I was pleasantly surprised by the good accessibility Wazuka has to the city.
Charm # 3: The water and air are very delicious.
The tap water is potable and extremely delicious. This makes the tea brewed in Wazuka even more tasty!
Charm # 4: Local residents treat strangers openly and friendly in the countryside.
There are a relatively large number of immigrants aside from me, so I don't feel alienated as a "foreigner." I think the locals are also getting used to the migration of "outsiders".
Charm # 5: A complete life in Wazuka Town
You can buy daily groceries at local supermarkets, and there are shops and convenience stores where you can buy daily necessities. Although it is small and compact, it is helpful because you can complete your life in Wazuka Town.
What do you think? If you want to move to Wazuka, please contact us! Let's liven up Wazuka together!