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::::: Activity Report: April 27th, 2014 :::::

posted Apr 27, 2014, 11:13 PM by INFO ICT   [ updated Apr 28, 2014, 12:35 AM ]

Tea Hand-Picking Experience Picked tea leaves will go to National Tea Competition


On April 27th, 7 ICT members went to Hiratsuka-en tea farm, where is in a quiet residential area in Iruma city, for tea hand-picking 茶摘み. Nowadays, tea leaves can be picked by machine, nevertheless, hand-picking is still preferred in many places. Here Hiratsuka-en also is.

Each of us took a basket, and we carefully chose and picked new tea leaves with the way of picking “一芯二葉” (1 core with 2 leaves), which is used for producing high quality teas (e.g. leaves go to National Tea Competition; Sencha, Gyokuro, Maccha and much more). After 2 hour picking under the beautiful green tea growing terraces, we took a break with tasty teas and Japanese rice crackers which Obachan kindly served us.


Tea is categorized as “一番茶” (first-grade tea) picked from April to May, “二番茶” (second-grade tea) from June to July and “三番茶” (third-grade tea) in autumn during the growing season. The time span in a year and how much leaves can be harvested vary depending on the climate. Mr. Hiratsuka has put his much efforts to keep growing tea leaves under the same condition every year, so it means that picking new leaves in spring is the result of his efforts!


Afterwards we visited his tea factory and learned how tea is processed (e.g. pressing, heating, rolling, drying, shaping etc). Most of us have never seen all traditional machines for tea processing and known the whole process, especially the part of drying which is automatically calculated how much tea leaves should be dried at each stage, and the amount of water in leaves gradually evaporated with rolling and heating.


Lastly, the most concern in the tea industry is that the products don’t sell because of reduced demand. It's a tough way for small tea farms to make a living. Mr. Tomono said that it was an undeniable fact that Japanese people no longer drink as much as they used to.


I hope that this kind of experience could be of some help to expand of the Japanese tea culture and contribute to increase the number of Japanese tea lovers in Asia, Europe and the world!


I would like to sincerely thank you to the Hiratsuka family and staff for fun and detailed lectures during tea picking, Mr. Tomono for introducing us the tea factory for his kindness, and Haruna san for organizing this wonderful learning experience!!


(Posted by Tsubasa Kato)