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Autumn Tea Farm

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SEPTEMBER

Soil Management               
Autumn is the time when our farmer accesses the condition of his soil, checking on the pH level, sending his soil for laboratory analysis to find out what is lacking or what is in abundance, aeration of the soil, all so to prepare his soil for a good harvest the following year. This is also the time when he strengthens the structure of his soil by using the compost which he makes with organic materials and ferments for as long as four years, not the common one year which most farmers spend on making their composts.

    

OCTOBER

Fourth Harvest - Bancha   
The last harvest, fourth harvest, on our organic farm takes place during the period from late September to early October. Teas made from tea leaves harvested at this time of the year are commonly known as Shutoubancha or Bancha. Bancha is actually Sencha of the fourth harvest.

For tea leaves used for making Bancha, most farms allow the leaves to mature and grow big and coarse. Such leaves tend to be hard and contain a high level of Catechins, the anti-oxidant that is responsible for the astringency and bitterness of the tea. Our farmer harvests his tea leaves for Bancha before they get too big and coarse. He insists in producing a quality Bancha with leaves which are tender enough to be kneaded and rolled a little (Bancha tea leaves are rolled a little as they are not as tender as Sencha tea leaves to be rolled tightly) whereas most Bancha tea leaves in the market are generally not rolled. Kneading breaks down the cell walls of tea leaves, allowing nutrients of the tea leaves to infuse easily in water and rolling is to enable these nutrients to be enveloped within the tea leaves before infusing in water.

 
Processing - Aracha          
After harvest, fresh tea leaves undergo two stages of processing - primary processing carried out at the farm by our farmer and secondary processing, which is done at our facility by us, the tea wholesaler. Primary processing produces Aracha, which is crude tea or half-finishing tea for making into Bancha. It involves steaming the freshly harvested leaves to halt oxidation to maintain the color and quality of the leaves and at the same time, balance the flavor by removing the 'grassy' smell. After steaming, the leaves are kneaded, rolled a little and dried to form Aracha. This Aracha is then delivered to our facility for the secondary processing, which involves sorting and drying to produce Bancha, the finishing tea....(read more)
 

Fourth Harvest - Matcha    
The final fourth harvest for Matcha on our organic farm takes place during the same period as Bancha, from late September to early October.

 
Processing - Tencha          
After harvest, fresh tea leaves undergo two stages of processing - primary processing carried out at the farm by our farmer and second processing, which is done at our facility by us, the tea wholesaler. Primary processing produces Tencha, which is crude tea or half-finishing tea for making into Matcha. It involves steaming the freshly harvested leaves to halt oxidation to maintain the color and quality of the leaves and at the same time, balance the flavor by removing the 'grassy' smell. After steaming, the leaves are dried in a special furnace called 'Tencha-Ro', sorted and de-veined to form Tencha. This Tencha is then delivered to our facility for the secondary processing, which involves mainly blending and milling to produce Matcha, the finishing tea...(read more)                                                                                                                                                                                            


After Harvest Pruning        
The final pruning of the year takes place after the fourth harvest. It is an important process for all tea farms, including our organic tea farm. This last pruning has to be carried out with much care and planning as it greatly affects the volume of harvest for the following year. Pruning serves the following purposes:
  • ensures that new sprouts of the next harvest grow uniformly to allow for easy plucking;
  • prevents old leaves and stems from getting mixed with new leaves during the first harvest plucking the following year;
  • controls the number of buds by utilizing the physiological ecology of tea plants, thus managing the volume of harvest for the following year.

 

NOVEMBER

Preparation for Winter       
This is the time when our farmer covers his soil with straws to prevent the soil from becoming dry and the roots from damages caused by low winter temperature when winter sets in. The straws also help to curb the growth of weeds. Our farmer pays special attention to his young tea plants below five years of age as these plants are more vulnerable to frost damages.

This is also the time when our farmer checks that all the sprinklers on the farm are functioning well. Sprinklers help to prevent frost from forming on the tea leaves in very low temperature which will cause severe damages to the tea plants and their leaves.



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