Hello, 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 members of our team. Wherever you may be, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe together.
An update from d:matcha's tea fields - Organic fertiliser（by Hiroki.A ）
Whenever I suddenly anticipate the weather to get warmer, the temperature drops again! On the bright side, as I mentioned last month, the colder it is, the more likely the quality of the tea will improve.
The lowest temperature that tea trees can withstand is approximately -5 ℃. If the temperature falls below this, abnormalities or growth disorders may start to occur. The most common growth disorder is withering.
Tea leaves that have withered to a reddish brown colour have been subjected to below freezing temperatures. The cold destroys the tea tissues. This can also be seen in spring when young sprouts are hit by frost prior to the first harvest. This is referred to by tea farmers as 赤枯れ akagare or ‘red withering’.
The other form of withering, which is known as 青枯れ aogare or ‘blue withering’, occurs when the temperature in the soil drops below 3 ℃. Due to the lack of rain and extreme cold, the roots are unable to keep up transpiration levels. Even if there is an adequate amount of water in the soil, the roots cannot absorb enough water to be delivered to the uppermost shoots. The absence of water thus causes the leaves to wither.
While the withering takes place under the same conditions (i.e. extremely low temperatures), the treatment methods are starkly different. For example, our gokou tea trees experienced aogare. We were able to conclude that this was the reason because this tea field naturally has adequate levels of water in the soil. Furthermore, the leaves from this tea field are often used to produce tencha, which means the trees are a significant number of branches. This also infers a likelihood of there being higher levels of transpiration.
Cultivating a certain type of crop is always different as compared to when you let it grow naturally in the while. Tea trees originally grow in the forest, where they are well shaded by other trees. Since we are now cultivating these trees in a location they aren’t built for, it is natural for such abnormalities to crop up. I do feel however, that being a successful farmer lies in being able to balance the needs of the plants, while accepting that such issues may occur. One cannot coexist without the other.
D:matcha’s staff’s tea life（by Natsuki）
I am thrilled to finally be able to reveal our upcoming collaboration project with Shotoku Shuzo, a sake brewery from Fushimi in Kyoto Prefecture! We will be launching our “Uji Matcha Sakekasu Cheesecake'' through the crowdfunding platform, makuake.
The cheesecake is made with d:matcha’s matcha and sakekasu. The latter is the by-production from sake production, and is perfectly safe for consumption. When combined, this cheesecake is bound to delight all your senses. The product will also be sold as a set with Shotoku Shuzo’s sake. Personally I feel that the cheesecake and plum wine set is a brilliant match!
We have spent a lot of time and effort compiling articles, taking photos and videos, as well as interviewing the sake brewer. Thus we can proudly say this is a product made with heart and one that successfully combines two traditional food products from Kyoto prefecture: Uji matcha and Fushimi sake. If you have the time please take a look at the product on makuake!
Sustainable agriculture（by Chisei.T）
Year by year, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are steadily increasing. This has led to an increasing number of research projects aimed at finding technology that can store CO2 either underground or in the ocean. Personally I feel that relying on such methods of storing CO2 levels are not nearly as effective as aiming to reduce the amount of CO2 gas itself. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), agriculture and forestry (e.g. livestock farming) accounts for approximately 20% of total CO2 emissions. While tea may not play such a significant role, this still puts farmers such as ourselves in the spotlight.
On the other hand, the development of chemical fertilisers has undoubtedly brought improvement to the agriculture sector. I often refrain from making a bold claim that “chemical fertilisers are evil”. This is because there have been times when the use of chemical fertilisers were effective, especially for farmers in developing countries. As a tea farmer in a developed country however, I think that is our responsibility to set an example of successful organic cultivation.
To refine our approach to this problem, at d:matcha have also decided to turn more of our tea fields into organic fields. We will be using fertiliser made from green manure. This includes the by-products of tea brewing. I am also hoping to conduct more controlled experiments with different crops. For example, green manure is often made from marigold or Chinese milkvetch. These plants are extremely effective for cultivating soil nematodes, which live in the roots and stems. These special microorganisms are important as they contribute directly to nutrient mineralisation through their feeding habits.
Last but not least, green manure is extremely compact. This means it can be easily packed and will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions used for transportation. While I did try my hand at green manure cultivation in the past, I gave up at one point because it was too difficult! I would like to try again this year and use that experience to succeed.
72 Seasons（by Ryhan）