STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 5, Number 2

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Page 54 of 83

STiR tea & coffee industry international 55 21 - 22 June 2016 DUBLIN, IRELAND C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Harvester ensures uniformly trim on Yamamoto farm. Morihiko Yamamoto describes mechanization process. according to Oscar Brekell, a Japanese tea instructor currently working at the research centre. Tsuchiya and the majority of the farmers in the region con- tinue to use the traditional Chagusaba, a method that recently received the FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) recognition. "The grass not only provides organic matter to the soil, it helps to neutralize the fertilizer and prevents burning," said Tsuchiya. As an additional benefit, the Chagusaba method in- creased the overall biodiversity of the region. There are 300 species of plants found in the area, including 7 confirmed or- ganisms that are either unique or endangered. It is a time con- suming technique, but one that Tsuchiya believes is well worth the effort. Planting seven cultivars, including a nursery of young plants, Tsuchiya takes a moment to observe his land and wonder about the future of tea production. His hope is that the younger gen- eration carries on the tradition of tea production. Next generation farmers One individual who believes in the possibilities in the tea indus- try is Tomonobu Sano, who has been a tea farmer for the past 20 years. A third-generation family farmer, Sano learned grow- ing and production methods from his father. With 4.5 hectares of land at the base of Mount Fuji, Sano has allocated half an acre for his hand plucked tea. "Hand plucking is very specific, only the first two leaves are plucked," says Sano. "It involves about 25-30 people each year, picking just over 0.1 hectares a day. "Ea- ger to try out new methods, Sano allocates a portion of the tea for hand-rolled Tenka Fuji. This tea, which was recently served to the Emperor, had not been created for over 130 years. Re- cently Sano decided to experiment with this form of hand roll- ing, which requires gently massaging and stretching the leaves a minimum of five times. The end result is fine needle-like tea leaves that are approximately three to four inches in length. The remainder of his field is harvested mechanically begin- ning in May. With a nutrient-rich Mt. Fuji region brings forth unique characteristics in the green tea. The soil is further en- hanced by incorporating the Chagusaba method eliminating the need for non-organic fertilizer. Wanting to share his love of tea with others, Sano opened a tea café about 10 years ago where he sells tea, pastries and tea ware, encouraging individuals to sit and share over a cup of tea. The production of tea in Japan is a rich and multilayered story, incorporating technology, research and history to develop a qual- ity cup of tea. It is a beautiful marriage of research and the pro- ducers, all working together with the hope to continue to share the uniqueness of Japanese tea both internally and abroad.

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