You may ask, "How do I know your green tea is as good as you say it is?"
This is how our farmers do it.
Our organic green tea is grown on family farms located in small villages in the foothills of Mount Fuji where farmers pride in their commitment to only harvesting crops grown in the way Mother Nature intended. Due to its high elevation, this remote Isagawa-Izumidaira and Kawane region of Shizuoka Prefecture enjoys the perfect combination of clean air, pure water, and fertile soil only found in this area of Japan, which enables pesticide-free farming.
In fact, to preserve this way of farming, these villages have adopted strict policies and guidelines on organic farming, and these tea farmers, as well as the region's fruit and vegetable farmers, are striving to provide the safest and best quality produce to their customers.
Mr. Taruwaki, one of our farmers, has been growing green tea for more than 40 years. What makes him different from the others is that he doesn’t use pesticides – not even the organic ones.
Mr. Taruwaki started his organic journey 25 years ago with a small portion of his farm dedicated to organic farming. It wasn’t until 5 years later that he successfully harvested his first batch of organic green tea.
His beginning was filled with difficulties. His crops in the organic section of his farm were destroyed by pests and diseases. He tried using everything he could think of as an organic pesticide. From vinegar to Chinese herbal medicine to brown cane sugar to Hinoki leaves (Japanese cypress), which is known to have bactericidal effects.
Nothing worked to Mr. Taruwaki’s satisfaction. After many failed attempts, he finally came to a conclusion – Do not use pesticide. The key to successful organic farming was, he realized, building a habitat on the farm in which not only pests can live but also insects that feed on the pests can thrive.
After his first successful harvest, it took Mr. Taruwaki another 5 years to go completely organic on all of his land. In total, it took him 10 years to build a self-sustaining eco-system on his farm that truly enables him to grow his green tea in the way Mother Nature intended.
To Mr. Taruwaki, not all water is created equal, and that’s why he brings spring water all the way from a nearby mountain. This spring water is rich in minerals, he says, and he puts extra oxygen in the water to give more “energy” to his tea plants.
When he waters his tea, he doesn’t rely on sprinklers. He waters his farm with his own hands while checking each section of his farm with his own eyes.
Mr. Taruwaki is also particular about what goes into his home-made organic fertilizer. Here are the ingredients: rice bran, fish scrap, kelp, crab shells, and chicken feces. He mixes and ferments them for 3 months, and uses it on his farm twice a year in the spring and fall. This nutrients-rich fertilizer makes his farm’s soil soft and puffy. As Mr. Taruwaki walks through his farm, he leaves his footprints behind him, which is rare on a tea farm.
Does it really take this much work to grow organic green tea? Yes, says Mr. Taruwaki, if you want to grow tea that tastes good. He says it extremely difficult to organically grow tea that is full of flavor. Despite all the work he puts in, Mr. Taruwaki says he can’t do it just on his own. He can do this because of the perfect environment in which his farm is located.
In the foothills of Mount Fuji, his farm is located at the elevation of approximately 2,000 feet. Mr. Taruwaki says teas grown organically on farms located higher than this elevation would be bitter, and it would be difficult to harvest at profitable quantity. Anything below this elevation, he says, it would be hard to maintain the perfect eco-system that would enable pesticide-free farming.
It is the combination of the elevation, climate, soil, water, along with the farmers’ attention to details, that makes tea farming in this remote area of Japan sustainable, both ecologically and economically. This is what makes our teas different from others.