Tokuya’s approach to tea farming is not at all a conventional one. While he faces a lot of criticism from other farmers, he aims to stay true to his own beliefs which involve exclusively natural methods. These do not employ any pesticides or fertilizer at all. In my latest meeting with Tokuya I was able to discover more about his philosophy. In this article I present a summary of the main points of focus that he observes when cultivating his tea.
The roots of the tea bush grow towards gravity. The bushes that grow on a horizontal surface first penetrate the shallow top layer of soft arable soil and then gradually reach the deeper layer of hardened subsoil. Topsoil is softer and contains more air, which makes it easier for the roots to penetrate and grow deeper. On the contrary, subsoil is a more densely compressed stratum in which it is more difficult for roots to spread into.
Mountains are creations of nature that have taken millions of years to reach their current grandeur. Mountains are formed of layers of soil that can be traced back to different eras in history. These layers of soil are formed of a variety of soil and rock types, housing different microcosms of bacteria and little organisms that produce nourishment for vegetation and regulate how nutrition is maintained or transported in the pores of the soil.
While Japanese green tea and matcha are rapidly gaining in popularity, the information available about the product in English is still scarce.
As a long term resident in Japan, certified tea ceremony instructor and Japanese tea sommelier with specialisation in organic and artisan teas, I have produced a book that will fill this gap.
The majority of tea gardens in Japan are cultivated from registered cultivar species. While cultivars became available to farmers during the 1960’s, most producers only began converting their tea gardens to cultivar farms from the mid-1970’s onward due the high initial cost of conversion. At Fumiaki Iwata’s tea garden in Nara, Tsukigase too, his parents …
The consideration of the manufacturer is the ease of cultivation and harvest of the bushes he chooses. In addition, the consideration for the major industry is a matter of how they can develop a generic flavor in the tea.Their interest is the facilitation of mass production for a commodity with equal and predictable flavor. This flavor must just sufficiently appeal to the greater public, but nothing more.
The straw canopy The straw canopy [本簾被覆; honzu hifuku] is mainly used for the cultivation of shade grown tea bushes used to produce gyokuro and tencha. On top of a shelf-like structure traditionally fashioned out of wood – but contemporarily for ease-of-labor reasons also to be found in stone – a layer of bamboo-reed blinds …
The tea bush is known to produce amino acids during tea cultivation. These are transferred to the fresh buds for their initial development. When the sunlight reaches those buds, photosynthesis occurs and causes these amino acids to change into catechin. While amino acids are chemical components that are responsible for a sweet, umami flavor, catechin components imbue the final product with a rather bitter taste.