Visiting a tea farm in Japan

Off for a daytrip to the tea garden Takanashi (高梨茶園) in the Tanzawa area. After 60 min train ride from Tokyo I arrive at Hadano station, where I had been before when going to the Tou-no-dake mountains. After 15 min by bus and a walk, there is the tea garden. The trip is organized by oag, we are 23 people.

The first thing we see: a flag saying 新茶, so ‘fresh tea’. Family Takanashi is introduced: a man in his 60ies, his son in his 30ies with his wife, and the grandson of maybe one year. We taste a cold, green tea, are divided into 2 groups. Takanashi family has relations to Germany: they export tea, and presented at German exhitions. We sit down in front of tea plants and listen to the senior Mr. Takanashi.

Tea cultivation details

What’s better than listening to someone who is really into the topic? Not much.. so in his childhood, tabaco was planted here instead of tea. That had many downsides: already the children got to breath tabako, the cultivation was difficult, and extra houses were needed for trying tabaco. So his father decided to cultivate green tea. Besides Shizuoka and Kagoshima, Tanzawa is known for tea. Once planted, the tea plants ‘live’ 50 or 60 years! We visited beginning of June and had just missed the first harvest, so when leaves were cut from the plants and fabricated into tea. There is also a second harvest in a few weeks.

tea_explanations

Urban legends get debunked: I had learned that the green tea in pet bottles, sold in Japans convenience stores and drink machines, is from China - not true. While he prefers fresh tea, Mr. Takanashi drinks also from pet bottles if there is nothing else. He also welcomes sweets with green tea, and other innovative products.

The tea we tasted was brewed with 70-80°C, and was ready 1min40seconds after filling the tea into the water. That’s actually pretty much how I prepare my tea in the morning: I fill green tea into a small tea bag, give that into hot water well below boiling temperature, and drink that after ~2 minutes.

The tea factory

After that, we move into the factory building. Of course, one use house slippers for a tea factory. :) Surprisingly, all of the machines here are made in Japan. After harvest, tea gets cleaned, then steamed, and then rubbed, optionally roasted. So theoretically, what would we get from just picking the leaves and giving them into hot water? No taste! The taste just appeard when ‘rubbing’ the leaves, either with hands or with machines.

As one might imagine: the factory halls are full of green tea smell. When drinking green tea, most people feel the activating effect of the ingreedints, and we feel that already from just breathing the air here! So the workers here also still react to that, they did not somehow get used to it, it’s also for them stimulating. They can sleep non the less, after a full day of work. As the tea has to be processed as quickly as possible, they just sleep 3-4 hours in the harvest time.

Eventually we step out of the building, drink tea again, have lunch. We buy tea. The young kid is playing with freshly roased tea.. and my nerd brain remembers the ‘Dune’ movies, with the planet Arrakis and the ‘spice’ being everywhere, people being in contact with it so it event changes the colour of their eyes. I guess that won’t happen for green tea. ^^

Ever noticed these ‘fans’ above tea plants? Turns out these are indeed to mix the air, to keep frost away from the plants - hard to imagine, with the fan located so high above the plants.

We then walked up to a well nearby, and drove back to Tokyo.

More pictures are here: https://fluxcoil.net/2022teafarm.


Last modified on 2022-06-08

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