|Yoshiaki Hattori stands with his tea plants under a solar shade screen|
Meet Yoshiaki Hattori, sustainable tea visionary and crafter of some of the finest matcha we've ever tasted. The Hattori facility (Tenryu Agri-Farms) resides in Shizuoka, Japan, a region probably best known for its beautiful scenery, delicious food and huge trade in green tea. In fact, this prefecture grows 40% of the green tea in Japan! Even among smaller, more eco-friendly farms, Mr. Hattori takes an unusual approach to growing and processing. He strives to combine contemporary sustainability practices with very old-fashioned processing styles to bring the best of quality to the matcha market while minimizing his carbon footprint.
In the world of Japanese green teas, it's common to cover the plants for the last few weeks of their growth cycle in order to encourage the final growth spurt to be sweet and complex, rather than tannic and dry. This is how matchas and senchas are given the smooth and tasty verdant creamy we so enjoy! While many farms opt to use cloth screens, the Hattori approach uses solar panels as seen in the photo above. This way, his tea is delicious and the energy he uses on the farm is cleaner than you will find at most other Japanese green tea farms.
The quality of the soil is very important to both the flavor and healthfulness of tea, and so Mr. Hattori keeps his in good condition by avoiding all pesticides and introducing beneficial insects into his gardens. The plants are kept vibrant and in good health through careful tending by hand. Once picked he uses modern machinery to steam the whole green tea (this grade is called tencha) before slowly stone-grinding the leaf. The use of a manual stone-grinder is very slow, only allowing for the processig of 50 grams in an hour. This is much slower than more contemporary methods of machine grinding, but allows for less heat and therefore more sweetness and complexity of flavor. We love benefiting from this careful attention and slow process, as Mr. Hattori's matcha is absolutely divine!
|A small friend visits the tea garden|
If you have any questions about matcha, Mr. Hattori, our partnerships with small farms, or any other topics, please leave a comment below! And of course, if you would care to try this delightful matcha, pick some up online today or in our Wallingford store!
(Photos courtesy of Tealet)