Growing and Processing Tea Plants at Home


I just posted about the growing part in my own blog, and that content linked with how to make decent tea out of those leaves once you grow them.  Here I’ll touch on both.  

David Parks, co-owner of the Camellia Forest Nursery (with more posted about growing tea here) had passed on the input about growing tea plants.

I was just talking about the processing issue with a US tea farmer who would be familiar to many, Jason McDonald.  If the subject of US grown tea is of interest you really do need to look into that; he is one founder of an initiative to grow tea in Mississippi, and has since branched out to producing it in Hawaii.

Tea plants in a home garden in Mexico

One main point is that you need to match plants selected with local climate (which might not work in the far North of the US), and even after addressing climate issues and the rest–watering, nutrition, related to pests, harvesting–the leaves still need to be processed into a form that can be infused.  

First things first; David passed on some input about how that first part tends to go, based on his customers’ experiences. 

In general, people do enjoy the tea made from their own plants. They find it is very different from typical bagged tea but are pleasantly surprised. There are cases of people using mature leaves or even the dead leaves with rather poor success.

Since we are a mail order nursery we get requests from all over the country even locations that are too cold for growing tea. So many people try growing it indoors. The success varies but it can be done. Although actual production will probably be limited unless one is experienced growing plants to get good growth without getting too big a plant for a pot. Moving the plant outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter is probably the best option. People also have success in small or large greenhouses. One customer grows tea in a polyhouse in Michigan.

USDA plant hardiness zone map

This year was a cold hardiness test for tea in North Carolina. We had one night when the temperature dropped to 3 F and almost 2 weeks of temperatures below freezing. So far most looks OK and even tender varieties are expected to regrow from the roots. One issue we see is that harvested tea will keep growing into the fall and not harden off so the top leaves of many bushes are completely brown but lower leaves look green. Although not attractive I believe this does not hurt the plants and we will prune off these leaves very soon in preparation for the new flush in spring…

It is the low temperatures that seem to damage tea the most. From reports I have gotten from customers Sochi tea does appear to be one of the hardiest. It comes from tea plantations around the black sea in Russia. My Korean strain and small leaf tea have also been hardy strains and the best variety has not been clear.

Plants covered in ice at the Camellia Forest Nursery

That skipped more about discussing growing tea in Bangkok with him earlier (where I live).  It turns out it can be too hot for tea plants too, but that would vary by plant type, as cold tolerance would.  He also mentioned that low indoor humidity might not work well, with more on such issues in that linked online content.

This really won’t get far but the two themes are tightly linked, and it is great input.

Tea plants are not hard to grow if you find the right ones for your conditions [that earlier issue].

People are always doing this backward. They will find a tea they love, then find the cultivar that it is made from and attempt to grow it. The experiment fails and they get discouraged.

…The processing makes all the difference.  Some backyard growers get discouraged because they don’t have a lot of leaf to work with to hone their skills. They also do not have some of the basic equipment to make a good tea. They make great tea then burn it in the oven because the temperature won’t go low enough, or they stew it trying to sun dry because it doesn’t dry quickly enough.

If you have access to healthy leaf you can figure out a process to make good tea. People fail when they want to control the leaf in a manner for a desired result that is physically impossible. Case in point, I have an oolong plant. I cannot make a black tea out of it. It does not have enough polyphenol oxidase to oxidize properly.

Good teas can be made from a home garden but one must have experience making tea on a larger scale to have enough leaf to make mistakes on or to adjust parameters of a batch to find what works and what doesn’t. You usually do not have that with a small planting.

…There are some basic things one needs and they are not expensive, but you need them to make tea with. Even as simple as a good rolling board or kullah basket from Sri Lanka. You need a dryer even if it is a simple bamboo tea roaster with a heating element on the bottom with a low range thermostat, a rack in the middle and a bamboo top.

Ok, so it’s all not so simple.  But after that input from both, I’d really love to try it myself.

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Blast From the Past: Pairing Tea With Cheese


One might well imagine wine being the perfect pairing with cheese.  However, while at a cheese-and-wine tasting recently, I had a cheese expert tell me that cheese is much better paired with tea than wine.  So, I decided to host a cheese-and-tea tasting.  I purchased six cheeses and six teas, each with different flavor profiles and textures, and then proceeded to pair each cheese with each of the teas.

Cheeses

Chevre
Marieke Gouda
Hooks 3-Year Cheddar
Sarvecchio
Carr Valley Mobay
Hooks Blue Cheese

Teas

White Peony
Jasmine Green
Houjicha
Feng Huang Dancong “Ba Xian”
Golden Yunnan
Cinnamon Plum

Tasting Highlights

  1. It is best to taste the tea when it has cooled.  When tasting tea and cheese, put the cheese in your mouth and spread it all the way down your tongue and then take a sip of tea.  The tea coats your mouth and the cheese.  Next, breathe and inhale the aroma lingering in your mouth.  A nice tip that helps bridge the flavors in the cheese and tea is to crack fresh pepper onto the cheese, mix with honey, or add cocoa nibs.
  2. The Jasmine Green and White Peony went with just about every cheese.  They both complemented the very distinct flavors of the cheeses.
  3. We added cocoa nibs and honey to the fresh goat cheese (Chevre).  It was amazing!  That paired really well with Golden Yunnan, bringing out the sweet caramel notes of the rich black tea.
  4. White Peony went really well with goat cheese blended with honey.  The honey in the goat cheese brought out some really nice honeysuckle nectar-like notes in the White Peony.
  5. We cracked fresh pepper onto the Marieke gouda and paired it with Golden Yunnan.  The pepper brought out really nice spicy and malty notes in the Golden Yunnan.
  6. We tasted the Hooks Blue cheese at the end of our series.  We knew the flavor would overwhelm any other cheese tasted after it.  Blue cheese is often paired with port or a very thick, juicy, and sweet wine, so it made perfect sense to choose Cinnamon Plum for this pairing.  It was amazing.  We scooped up blue cheese into porcelain tasting spoons and drank the sweet notes of Cinnamon Plum that coated our throats with deliciously rich fruit.

Image provided by author.

This article was originally posted in February 2011.



Tea Towel & A Yayoi Kusama Exhibit


The Broad’s special exhibit Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors closed a few weeks ago. Angelinos who missed the show could catch it at the remaining stops, Toronto, Cleveland, or Atlanta, before the collection of six mirror-lined rooms leaves North America.

Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929, in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. She attained international recognition in 1957 via a solo exhibit, just a few weeks after her arrival in Seattle. Since 1977 she has resided, voluntarily, at a mental hospital in Japan and commuted to her studio daily.

For over an hour I waited in line to purchase the same-day admission ticket. The strategically positioned mirrors, the scintillating LED lights, and awkward reflections of oneself invoked giggle and laughter; I was not awed though. Art mavens dissected and embraced Kusama’s art, labeling it iconoclastic, recalcitrant yet profound. In my eyes, her work enriches the so-called cuteness culture, or simply cute culture, so cute that I wish to own a piece, especially the signature polka dot-clad Kusama Pumpkin, many of which were displayed inside a space entitled “Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” – the only room where photos were not allowed.

While searching for that perfect miniature Kusama Pumpkin replica, I came across her Love Forever Tea Towel. Do you own a tea towel? Of course you do. No one would cry foul if you call your dish cloth a tea towel. Vincent van Gogh painted on tea towels when he ran out of canvas. Such an ordinary object with many recorded anecdotes!



Does drinking hot tea cause cancer?


I’m always interested in reading articles that speak to tea’s amazing effects on reducing cancer risk. Needless to say, when I came across some research out of Peking University regarding esophageal cancer, I was quite disturbed.

Upon reading the article, however, I think I understand why drinking hot tea would be a culprit. The study was conducted looking at 3 risk factors: 1) Hot tea drinkers 2) Heavy alcohol consumption and 3) cigarette smoking. It takes all 3 variables to contribute to an increased prevalence of esophageal cancer. If you take a moment to consider this, it doesn’t take a research project to come to this conclusion.  Imagine a person who has been drinking and smoking to excess. Enter tea – or any excessively hot beverage. The hot liquid would burn the delicate tissue as it runs through the esophagus. Cigarette smoke certainly causes inflammation of the tissues and then the burn from a hot liquid – bingo, the damage to the cells would be swift and with repeated exposure, this is a scenario that would encourage cancer cells to dominate.

The researchers conclude that merely drinking hot tea does not, in and of itself, increase one’s risk for this type of cancer. Did we really need a study to come to that conclusion? When one isn’t drunk, it’s easy to learn to wait a bit before drinking our freshly brewed tea so we don’t burn ourselves. It would be interesting to see if these same effects and conditions apply to coffee consumption. Now that would have made a fascinating comparison.

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10 Reasons Why Tea is a Universal Home Remedy


Tea is a widely consumed beverage that seems to be suitable for any occasion, whether it’s a home brunch, a business lunch or a dinner with friends. Some recognize specific teas by their flavor, others prefer them for their health benefits. Tea is usually made of dried leaves, fruit, flower or roots of plants. There are countries which have a specific tea in their traditional culture, such as the Japanese Matcha green tea, Turkish black tea, Chinese Oolong tea or the famous English Earl Grey. For this article’s purpose, we will exclude the grain-based tea-resembling beverages.

Which Types of Tea are There?

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. The first one is water. Moreover, 80% of the Americans have tea in their homes, while 159 million of them drink at least one cup daily. But which one of those many options make real tea?

  • Tea: Derives from Camellia Sinensis plant. It only includes green, white, black, and oolong tea varieties.
  • Infusion: Herbal products which contain elements from a plant with can be recognized by their taste or effect.

Infusions and tea are not technically alike. However, they have made their way in tradition and culture as types of tea and are perceived as such. They also became parts of the tea serving ritual.

10 Ways Tea Helps You Protect Your Health and Boost Your Mind

  1. Contains Low Calories: A cup of tea without a milk or sugar addition has a couple of calories. Therefore, it’s suitable even as part of a diet and it’s almost as hydrating as water.  
  2. Rich in Antioxidants: Tea boosts your exercise endurance by providing you with an additional dose of antioxidants. This is due to the rich catechins found in many teas, especially in white and green tea. Moreover, antioxidants protect your body from the impact of pollution.
  3. Protects Against Heart Disease. Tea contains flavonoids which prevent cell damage and protect from heart disease and some types of cancer. The health effect comes with drinking one – three cups of tea daily.
  4. Eases Weight Loss. There are tea varieties which promote weight reduction and are even recommended by nutritionists. One of them is green tea, which also improves bone mineral strength and density. Also, your taste buds may perceive the taste of some flavored teas as appealing and, therefore, minimize your appetite.
  5. Boosts Immune System. Some flu or cold treatments include tea, as it contains theanine. This amino acid has direct benefits for your immune system.
  6. Fights Free Radicals. Tea can absorb oxygen radical substances that your body does not always eliminate entirely and protects your DNA.
  7. Lowers Parkinson’s Disease Risk. Tea minimizes the effect of smoking and other factors which might lead to Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.  
  8. Protects You from UV Rays. Green tea has backup sunscreen effects. Furthermore, it protects the cells from damaged caused by exposure to radiation as part of treatments.
  9. Prevents Cavities. Tea may decrease tooth loss, as it changes the pH of your mouth after consumption. However, brush your teeth within one hour, as green or black tea may leave stains.
  10. Works for Your Digestion. Many herbal teeth are antispasmodic and improve digestion. There are specific teas that also come in handy, such as ginger. Ginger tea calms nausea.

Take a Sip

Herbal teas provide you with plenty of health benefits. All you need to do is research and see which plant specializes in your desired effect.

Tea usually contains less caffeine than regular coffee, which makes it suitable for consumption on any occasion. However, there are teas which provide you with energy and are recommended for morning consumption. Choose your favorite tea and take a sip!

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Author Bio

Susan Hamilton is a food engineer and a homemade-everything type of woman. When she’s not growing her own fruits and vegetables or creating homemade recipes for her family, she likes wandering around and having different meetups with her friends. Even with a hectic schedule, she loves writing and editing articles for HomeRemedyBook, where she shares her knowledge about following a healthy lifestyle.



Tea Tasting: An Art for the Tea Lovers


Guest Post By: Rupal Sharma

Tea– As soon as the word ‘tea’ is heard, it recollects the image of warm water mixed with milk and sugar and all the other additives. Who would have known that the real teas are not the concocted liquors but the natural tea leaf extracts merged in warm water?

Tea Tasting Culture

Tea tasting has been an art since the very first cup of tea ever made in the world. However, the varieties of tea kept changing and evolved as the most preferred and beneficial health drinks all over the world.

Drinking tea has revolutionised and was made popular by not just being a drink over the taste buds of the tea consumers but reflecting joy on the faces. That joy was uncountable as the tea drinkers found their happiness in that one slurpy sip.

Emergence of Tea Tasting

Though tea is abundantly available in the current market and that too in different tastes, the tea drinkers have found their kind of art in tea tasting. The taste buds of these people have become so used to the taste of tea that in one sip they are able to detect the etymology of tea and its place of origination. They have reached a level of so much expertise that they possess a power to even convince the non-tea drinkers to enjoy tea with them.

Awareness of Tea as a Luxury Drink

If I talk about my personal experience, the art of tea tasting has been undoubtedly introduced in the place where I work. Being a tea lover, it has been a great experience in working with the core members of the tea business. I have tasted lots of varieties of tea as well as witnessed the tea tasting procedure; it has been a one of a kind experience as the tea experts guided me with approximately 20 kinds of teas and let me taste all of them. It is very rare that you would find a real tea connoisseur around you. But in my case, when I met Mr. Rishabh Dugar (founder of Te.Cha), I have always found him being involved in teas and explaining the art of consuming natural teas, just like a true tea connoisseur. Well, I have always had the tea with the addition of milk and sugar and other flavours, but the real magic of drinking natural tea has immaculately stunned me with the finesse in its taste.

Tea tasting has been compared to an art form as it is rarest of all that we could ever find anyone so much involved in tea that he thinks and talks only tea. The art of tea tasting reflects the voyage of the tea taster, and how much tea he or she has consumed and of how many varieties. Tasting different kinds of teas depend on the varieties of teas available in the market and these varieties are made from a very interesting and special technique, ‘cloning’. The clones of teas are being tested and then grown in different tea producing regions and they never fail to mesmerise the taste buds of the tea consumers.

Tea tasting has been a form of art for many decades and is growing at a rapid pace in today’s world. As the people from different places incline more towards living natural and healthy, tea has gained enormous popularity worldwide. It has become a natural source, where people find their leisure while drinking tea and sharing their happiness, get-togethers, formal or informal meetings, or any special occasion.

Tea has always been an art to consume whole-heartedly!


Author Bio: Rupal Sharma works at Te.Cha-Specialty Tea Boutique (www.techatea.com) in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India.

Writing has always been my passion and there is no other platform than sharing your thoughts through different write-ups and articles. I also have a fondness of singing and dancing and all other creative things that I find attractive and worth investing time for.

Success Mantra: ‘Smile as much as you can!’

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The post Tea Tasting: An Art for the Tea Lovers appeared first on T Ching.

Blast From the Past: Two styles of white tea


Author: Tiffany Williams

“Do not pick on the day that has seen rain nor when clouds spoil the sky. Pick tea only on a clear day.”
—Lu Yu

I hated my first white tea experience. It was a Lipton white tea blend in a tea bag and it put me off of white tea for years. Then I had real white tea: Silver Needle. Made with tea buds, Sliver Needle tea brews a rich delicate liquid with notes of fruit and honey – truly a robust flavor for a delicate light-colored tea. I fell in love with Silver Needle, but the high price stopped my budding addiction.

white_peonyThe most famous white teas originate in Fujian Province in China.  Fujian produces two main types of white tea: Silver Needle and White Peony.

Sliver Needle tea features long, tender, young tea buds with small hairs, carefully plucked after winter hibernation. In early spring, the tea bushes in Fujian sprout the first green leaves and buds. A stem has a new bud with two leaves below it. About three weeks before plucking, the tea bushes are shaded. Tea buds are picked on clear sunny days.

According to legend, young female virgins wearing silk gloves were the only ones to pick this special tea during Imperial China. Today, workers carefully pluck the best buds and let them wither in an open-air shaded area. Shading prevents further chlorophyll development from the sun. Drying the tea buds in the open air at a low temperature for about 24 hours allows the oxidation process to start. Over 10,000 tea buds can be found in one kilogram of Silver Needle tea, making it one of the most expensive teas in the world. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the emperor demanded this tea to be paid as tribute. However, there is a less expensive white tea you can enjoy – White Peony.

White Peony tea is a new leaf style white tea. This tea is made from the first bunch of new leaves located under a new tea bud. Tea masters blend a few different White Peony styles –  a tea bud and one leaf (the highest grade), the first leaf alone, a tea bud and an imperfect first leaf, and a tea bud and the first and second true leaves. The first leaf under the bud is porous, allowing for complete drying during the air-drying process. After plucking, White Peony tea leaves are dried in the shade and then baked. Because of the air drying, this tea is 8-15 percent oxidized.  White Peony varieties have the delicate flavors of flowers and honey.

So, how do you brew white tea? Heat filtered water until a column of steam rises. Pour the water over the tea leaves, cover, and steep for 90 seconds to two minutes. The amount of leaves in a cup is based on personal taste. Use more leaves for a stronger cup of tea. Do not use boiling or microwave water because the tea will taste bitter and burned.

White tea is a flavorful treat for all tea drinkers. Appreciate the specific plucking and manufacturing to create a flavorful and delicious cup. You can enjoy the traditional Silver Needle style and the new White Peony leaf style. Both are manufactured to tea perfection. Once I tasted high-quality, loose-leaf white teas, I became a fan. I like to drink white tea on hot days. It makes a great cold-brewed iced tea.

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This article was originally posted in February 2013.



You Can Eat Your Tea!


Infusing tea into every corner of your dining experience is not a new concept, but certainly a fun one. Tea is the perfect flavor complement in baked cookies, stir-fries, rubs, salad dressing, and even popcorn! Eating various teas can provide a unique profile and sweet or savory flavor personality that is sure to enhance your dining experience.

I greatly enjoy DAVIDsTEA Soup Teas. And, to my TEAlight, I discovered how Spicy Rasam’s blended soup packet—with green tea, cumin, turmeric, and spicy chili—gives an irresistible South Indian-style curry kick to my food. The light touch of fire is a perfect complement for my Pear and Mixed Green Salad, as well as a delicious addition sprinkled over my popcorn.

TEAlicious Salad dressing

2 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of DAVIDsTEA Spicy Rasam Soup Tea

  • Whisk ingredients together for a few minutes until blended.

Pear and Mixed Green Salad.

Mixed greens: arugula, baby spinach, dandelion greens
Baby beet tops
Chunks of Bosc pear

  • Mix chunks of Bosc pear, baby beet tops, and mixed greens together.
  • Pour TEAlicious Salad Dressing onto the salad.
  • Toss lightly until dressing thoroughly coats all ingredients.

Enjoy!

Spicy Rasam Popcorn

1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (for popping)
2 tablespoons DAVIDsTEA Spicy Rasam Soup Tea

Select a pot large enough to account for the expanding popcorn. The pot should also be on the thin side. Turn the heat up to high and place 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into the pot. Test readiness by adding two kernels of popcorn. Cover the pot and wait. When the two kernels pop, remove the pot from the heat, scoop out the two popped kernels, and then add the remaining unpopped kernels. Cover the pot and give it a good shake. Let the kernels sit for one minute. This allows the kernels to heat up evenly.

Once popped, pour the popcorn into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle Spicy Rasam onto the popcorn while hot and then toss lightly until evenly coated. I chose not to use butter on my popcorn. But, If you choose to do so, add melted butter before you sprinkling on the Spicy Rasam soup packet.

Relax and enjoy this flavorful treat!

Discover more recipe ideas and edible teas here: http://blog.davidstea.com/en/introducing-soup-teas/

Interested in individually designed tea reviews? Weaving compelling visual stories for social media is a passion of mine. I love creating immersive illustrated reviews that awaken people to tea and culture. If you desire an illustrated review to engage your followers, please contact me.



How A Japanese Tea Farm is Fighting Against Japan’s Biggest Problem – Age – Part One


The Japanese tea industry is facing a huge problem.

This problem is hitting many of the respected tea farmers who have been in the industry for decades or even centuries. 

The problem is: Japanese people are getting old.

In particular, tea drinkers in Japan are getting old. This article will show you why the green tea industry is facing the problem and a story of how one tea farmer is trying to combat the problem today.

Japanese tea drinkers are getting old

The average age of a Japanese green tea drinker is said to be 55 years old.  In 2018, the Japanese population had the second highest median age in the world next to Monaco. Based on 2014 estimates, 33% of the Japanese population is above the age of 60.  

Green tea is typically enjoyed by the older generation in Japan, and younger populations tend to be favoring other kinds of drinks such as coffee, soda and other sweet drinks, including fruit juice. 

If you stop on any corner in Tokyo, the self-serving vending machines show you the truth of this favoring. Although green tea is still the most common beverage in Japan, when you stop at stations such as Harajuku where the younger generation tends to hang out more, you see lines of “sweet drinks” in the vending machines.   (I wrote a comprehensive article about vending machine culture and green tea trend in Japan here.)

There is even a word for this in Japan now.  Ochabanare (お茶離れ), which literally means “leaving tea trend,” which describes young people leaving the culture and drinking of tea.

Due to the younger generation not drinking green tea, consumption of green tea in Japan has been decreasing year after year. 

As of 2018, Japan is the eighth largest tea producer in the world (88900 tons/year); however, tea farming itself has unfortunately decreased in recent years.

According to statistics released by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2016, the area used for tea farming has decreased from 46200 hectares in 2011 to 43100 hectares in 2016.  That is a 7% decrease in just 5 years.  This is said to be due to multiple reasons:

  1. Imports of tea from other countries such as China is increasing, reducing the price of tea.
  2. Also, farming in general is lacking young labor forces.  Farming is viewed as not “trendy” among the young population, causing a reduction in the labor force.
  3. The younger generation not drinking green tea is surely another main reason for this decline.  

Since tea was introduced to Japan from China in the 7th century, a unique tea culture has evolved in Japan. (Read more about unique Japanese tea culture in my other article.) Tea was initially valued as medicine due to its health benefits and was only available to the rich. Because tea was valued so highly and such a novel product, a unique culture evolved around tea in Japan; a good example is tea ceremonies which were practiced initially among high-class and rich people.    

Because of this novel status, tea farmers have been one of the most respected farmers in Japan for a very long time. Anywhere or any time in history where there are more resources, more inventions happen. A variety of different cultivation methods have evolved in tea industries in Japan over time to get the best tea available to the consumers. One of the most well-known examples of this is Matcha.

Matcha is cultivated by shading tea before harvesting, which increases many health-beneficial chemicals by basically “hungering” the tea plant to crave more sunlight. (Read more about matcha trivia here.)

Another example of such cultivation method is the Chagusaba method( 茶草場). This is a labor-intensive cultivation method commonly practiced over centuries in Shizuoka prefecture where dirt around tea leaves is covered by shrubs of different plants to protect roots from freezing in winter and making the tea taste sweeter. (Try green tea grown by Chagusaba method.)

Though this cultivation method is being designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System by the United Nations, due to the above-mentioned reasons, farmers are not able to sustain the method. (Read more about Chagusaba method.)

Though faced with many challenges, Japanese tea farmers are finding new ways to survive and thrive. Arahataen Green Tea Farms has been one of the most innovative leaders of tea farms in Japan, and very well respected by peer tea farmers.    

Arahataen has always been the first brave tea farm to try out new systems in the tea industry.  For example, they were the first farm to use a deep steaming method (Fukamushi 深蒸し) back in 60s to combat the problem of harder tea leaves due to excessive sun in the region. By successfully steaming tea for longer durations, they were able to introduce better tasting tea which was exposed to more sunlight. (Read more about deep steaming here.)

Arahataen was one of the first ones in Japan to adopt “mail subscription” services when TV shopping became popular in Japan, and of course one of the first to utilize the “online subscription” system. This made them the tea company with the highest online sales in Japan in 2016.

Images provided by author.

To Be Continued Tomorrow…



How A Japanese Tea Farm is Fighting Against Japan’s Biggest Problem – Age – Part Two


This is part two, continued from yesterday.

Arahataen’s newest and biggest challenge now is the problem every industry is facing in Japan: Age. With young people leaving tea drinking and the tea culture, what can a company do to solve the problem which is getting more serious every year?

Mr. Arahata’s idea was very simple. “Let’s ask the young people about it.”

Although much of the population of Japan is aging, there are young kids who are full of energy for a better and brighter future. Mr. Arahata’s idea was to get help from the “future” of Japan.

Unlike other countries, such as the USA, Japan has many high schools and junior high schools that specialize in a specific industry.  Many kids study to get into the high school of their dreams, which usually leads them into a university specializing in the industry. If a kid knows what they want to do in the future, Japan is a very good place for them because they get exposure to that industry from a very early age.  (Side note: In fact, I also went to an architect-specialized school (Shibaura Institute of Technology Junior and Senior High School) for my junior high school and part of high school before I came to the USA.)

Arahataen approached the local high school specializing in business industry, Shizuoka Commercial High School (静岡商業高等学校). The school had 844 students in 2017 and is well connected to the local farming industry from a commercial perspective.

Students from Shizuoka Commercial High School

With a partnership with Shizuoka Commercial High School, Arahataen Tea Farm became the teacher of a course for the 8th grade students for a period of one year.

Arahataen’s job as a teacher is to teach kids the basics of tea farming, harvesting, and production. Students were exposed to the real everyday life of the tea industry for one year. As noted above, Arahataen is one of the oldest tea farms of the region, and they handle not only farming but also packaging, distribution, and marketing. Kids were very excited to get hands-on experience in growing tea and distributing into the mass market of the world.  

As part of Curriculum, the goal of the year-long course was to find a way to market the tea to the youth.

After a number of brainstorming sessions, a student came up with the idea to add “something” to the tea so that young people will like it. Their idea was to look for ingredients by learning from drinks popular among students.  They listed drinks they usually drink. The list included drinks such as Cokes, fruit juice, Calpis (popular Japanese soft drink) and cocoa drinks. What was common among all the products were “sweet” and often “sour.”

After the brainstorming sessions, with help from actual production facilities, students prototyped a number of different drinks and snacks.  They shared the prototyped products and surveyed the entire region’s high schools to see which ones they liked the most.

The result of this one-year journey was: Green tea with Lemon.

Students trying to come up with ideas for new tea product

Student trying out prototype tea

Event at school to present the new product developed over one year of effort

With help from Arahataen’s wide and strong connections with local farms, students were able to source local lemon to add to the tea.  Arahataen decided to use one of the most premium teas grown by the Chagusaba method (see above about this method) with sugar cane.  They have powdered the premium tea so that it is easier to mix and drink with cold or hot water, as the kids suggested, since most of them don’t have tea kettles at home.

Powdered tea (Konacha粉茶) is usually made with the non-prime part of green tea. It is usually the result of using the “leftover” tea so that all parts of tea can be sold.  Arahataen did not want to go with low-quality tea. Therefore, they powdered the most premium crops to preserve the healthiest and best part of the tea.  

They have also partnered with a local orange farm of Japanese Orange Mikan to come up with the second product of the line called Green tea with Japanese Orange.  Mikan is also known as Japanese Citrus which is very similar to mandarin.

Since the introduction of the product, both products have been catching boom in Japan now and are featured by national TV shows as well.

You can also try this in the USA from the Japanese Green Tea Company here:

Green Tea with Lemon:
https://www.japanesegreenteain.com/collections/matcha/products/green-tea-with-lemon  

Green Tea with Japanese Orange (Mikan):
https://www.japanesegreenteain.com/collections/matcha/products/green-tea-with-japanese-orange

Images provided by author.