Organic Tea Farm
What is organic Japanese green tea?Briefly, organic Japanese green tea in Japan refers to Japanese green tea that is cultivated on an organic certified tea farm, and processed by an organic certified tea processing company. Both the farm and tea processing company are certified organic by an organic certification body under the regulation of JAS, the Japanese Agriculture Standards.
What is an organic certified tea farm?Generally, an organic certified tea farm needs to first ensure that its lands are free from chemicals like pesticides and artificial fertilizers at least three years prior to certification. After which, cultivation must be carried out following the requirements of organic certification. The major requirements are:
- the prohibition of the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and human sewage sludge fertilizer;
- the absence of genetically modified organisms;
- ensuring no contamination of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers from neighboring farms;
- keeping detailed records of farm operation for annual audit and inspection;
- receiving strict annual audit and inspection by organic certification body for farming operations.
What is an organic certified tea processing company?Generally, an organic certified tea processing company processes and packages its organic teas in line with the organic regulations set by JAS (the Japanese Agriculture Standards), at its organic certified facilities which are inspected annually. The organic regulations require strict documentation records for each processing process to ensure that all requirements for organic tea processing are met and which are traceable. Some of the requirements are:
- to store the organic crude teas and processed teas in storage spaces in the absence of any non-organic teas or raw materials;
- to process and pack organic teas in separate facilities from non-organic teas;
- to record all processing procedures from the time the organic raw materials are delivered to the time the processed organic tea leaves the facilities.
Features of Our Organic Tea Farm
|Our organic tea farm is located in southern Japan, on the island of Kyushu, in Kagoshima. This is the second largest tea producing region after Shizuoka. It has a subtropical climate with abundance sunshine and bountiful rainfall. Teas fields are vast, a characteristic feature of Kagoshima tea farms. |
|Our organic tea farm is found on an elevation of about 500 meters above sea level, in a mountainous region.|
High Altitude - Mist
|Fast changing air pressure on this high altitude leads to the formation of mist, which acts as a natural 'shade' over the tea plants, shielding the plants from direct exposure to the sun, helping the tea leaves to retain as much of their amino acids, the main elements contributing to the natural sweetness of the tea leaves.|
High Altitude - Mist
|The mist also protects the tea leaves from the frost form as a result of low nightly temperatures. |
High Altitude - Sharp Difference in Day and Night Temperatures
|The sharp difference in the day and night temperatures on this high elevation produces tea with a rich, full-body flavor.|
|Due to a volcanic eruption several thousand years ago, the soil has a rich mineral content.|
Mineral-Rich Spring Water
|Blessed with an abundance of mineral-rich spring water, our farm has a few reservoirs to store the water. Utilizing such water in the steaming process of the tea enhances the color of the tea leaves. |
Mineral-Rich Spring Water
|Mineral-rich spring water is used on the tea plants by means of sprinklers with nozzle heads that create ultra-fine water droplets resembling that of mist. |
Neighboring Organic Farms
|This is almost unthinkable of in other regions of Japan but our 80 hectares wide of organic tea farm is impressively surrounded by organic certified farms or farms which are not organic certified but are practicing organic cultivation. This eliminates the possibilities of pesticides contamination. |
All our organic teas are tested for pesticides and radiation residues at the strictest laboratory in Germany.
Tea Plants with Strong Roots
|It is a common practice for farmers to harvest tea leaves from tea plants which are three years of age (from the time of planting). Our farmer allows the young plants to reach five years of age before harvesting the leaves. By not disrupting the growth of plants before the age of five, roots grow longer and deeper into the ground, drawing up more nutrients which helps in building stronger roots. With strong roots, plants do not fall prey to diseases or pests easily, which is important in organic farming as the use of pesticides or chemicals are not permitted. |
No Synthetic Fertilizers, ONLY Home-Made Organic Compost
|Despite the availability of some commercial organic fertilizers permitted for use in organic farming, our farmer chooses to use his own compost. He makes it from organic materials like wild mountain plants, leaves, sawtooth, oak, soil, etc., all readily available from nearby mountains.|
He ferments these materials for four years while most farmers do so for only a year. This is a tedious job requiring constant accurate moisture monitoring and proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture with the use of a power shovel. Allowing a longer fermentation period encourages a healthy micro-organism community to multiply and grow in huge amount, which helps to break down the organic matters to form a nutrient-rich compost.
|Our farmer uses no pesticides on his farm, not even 'Jochugiku', a natural pesticide, since the day he started cultivating organic tea. Without the presence of pesticides, the natural habitats of beneficial insects which feed on harmful pests are not disturbed nor destroyed, resulting in a farm thriving with beneficial insects in summer when harmful pests are most active. |
Other than relying on these beneficial insects, our farmer and his workers use a simple machine whiich comes with a blower and a spray. The blower emits a strong gust of wind to blow pests of leaves and the spray lets off water at a high pressure simultaneously, eliminating the pests.
|Our farmer and his workers are always seen puling weeds manually, one by one, on the farm. He uses on herbicides, which can have detrimental effects on the soil in the long run.|