Updated: Jun 28
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