JOURNAL / JAPAN etc.(English)

JAPAN [Shizuoka]
Japanese Ingredients for the World’s Top Kitchens #34


How Pests Create a Better Tea


無農薬だからこそ作れる紅茶 和紅茶[静岡]未来に届けたい日本の食材
text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Daisuke Nakajima / English text by Susan Rogers Chikuba

Though the times are always changing, there are certain timeless ingredients from Japan that will never go out of style. Yukio Hattori, president of Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo, introduces unique labors of love—items grown and produced with care and integrity by hardworking suppliers across the country.

On slopes too steep for machinery, the Kinezuka family has been cultivating and handpicking green tea in Fujieda, Shizuoka, for 40 years. For 35 of those they have also produced a black tea they call Wa-kocha. The former is made from the tender first-flush leaves of spring; the latter, from the second-flush leaves picked in early summer. These, it turns out, are better suited to fragrant black tea thanks to the presence of the leafhopper bug.

At first harvest in spring, ambient temperatures are low enough that the leaves remain free of insect damage. But by the June harvest, in response to hungry leafhoppers the plant has released protective acids that later benefit the fermentation process and result in a more fragranced tea. The Kinezukas follow practices learned from producers in Sri Lanka, and work with local consumers to keep pesticide-free tea production sustainable.


Using mechanically heated air would speed the drying process, but the Kinezukas do it the Sri Lankan way.


Daughter Ayumi keeps a close eye on temperature and moisture control.


Upon kneading, the leaves are still green in color but soon oxidize to a reddish-brown.


Even iced, Wa-Kocha tea maintains its bright hue.

(写真左)発酵は温度が上がりきったら終了。香りは毎回微妙に異なるそうだ。 (写真右)作業中でも工場内に茶葉が散乱することはない。

(photo left)Fermentation is complete when the temperature begins to drop. The fragrance is subtly different each time.
(photo right)The floor is kept pristine throughout production.


 Toshiaki Kinezuka with Ayumi and her husband Hiroyuki.

◎Hitotono Shizenwo Tunagukai
1416-3 Takisawa, Fujieda-shi, Shizuoka

(The Cuisine Magazine /September 2016)