Monthly Archives: May 2011
Week 3 & 4 at the organic tencha gardens of Uji! (For week 1 & 2 please see Uji Report 2011 Part 1).
From week three you can start to see the precious young leaves of gokou tea bushes sprouting out. It is also the time of year when both beneficial and pest insects start to become active around the organic tea gardens. A close up of the gokou tea bush (below) you can see spider webs. There are literally hundreds of spiders living in organic tea gardens and also many ladybirds, lacewings and frogs busying around at this time of year. These are all beneficial insects which help keep deadly pest insects like thrips under control which can be detrimental to tea bush growth. Living in harmony with insects, birds, and living creatures is a traditional farming principle in Japan and is really special to see especially when considering most Japanese tea gardens these days, especially shaded tea gardens, now rely heavily upon chemical pesticides to wipe out insects.
Here’s week three and four growth of gokou tea bushes 2011. Our grower told us gokou tea bushes will produce a slightly smaller yield this year:
Week 3 & 4 in the samidori tea garden you can see how vibrant and lustrous the growth has already become compared to the more methodically growing gokou tea bushes:
Week 4 shading of both tea gardens is considered to be stage 3 which is around 90% shading. A thicker black sheet is now pulled over the tea bushes as opposed to the thinner sheet we showed in the Uji Report 2011 Part 1. Correctly shading tea bushes for tencha requires incredible expertise and is not something any regular tea grower can do. One of the most difficult aspects of the shading process is to maintain steady growth and at the same time grow the leaves big enough without them hardening. They must remain thin and tender, yet big enough to produce tencha from the mesophyll part of the leaf. Here’s week four at the gokou and samidori tea gardens under around 90% shading:
Since 13th May handpicking of leaves begun at the plantation and continues all through May as an when each breed is ready. Our grower in Uji has a number of small organic gardens at his tencha plantation, the most precious and prized of them all is the asahi varietal which grows at a really tiny plantation. We hope to reserve a small amount of tencha from this plantation in the not too distant future: