2023 July round up

Welcome to the July round-up newsletter. A monthly letter about everything that has happened inside and outside the tea nursery.

Japan, the second round

As I write the newsletter, it has been around a week since I returned from Japan. With a week left this month, I thought I would start earlier to write the newsletter to avoid the last month's delay. The trip complicated writing on the blog, but it also gave many content to write about.

We left the last newsletter with me on the way to Kobe from Nagasaki. We visited Sonogi, north of Nagasaki, where we met the Ikedoki team. I had a wonderful time and am looking forward to visiting again soon. The city is located in a lovely coastal inner bay in Nagasaki prefecture, with tea fields overseeing the sea that offers stunning views.

From Kobe went directly to Kyoto to spend a couple days during Tanabata, visiting places like the Kifune shrine, among others. Then visited Tokyo for a few days, enjoyed the Sakurai tea experience and finally got my hand in some Senchado single-cultivar teas from them. We also went to some tourist places around Tokyo and had a great visit to the Harry Potter exhibition there.

The last leg of the trip brought us to Makinohara in Shizuoka. There I had the pleasure of finally meeting Morihiko Yamamoto from Samurai tea farm. An incredible welcoming farmer from Makinohara. Part of the visit was to learn from his approach to aromatic teas and about Kaori Ryokucha, a tea I have already written about in a morning brew post here.

Lastly, I had the incredible opportunity to visit the Prefectural Shizuoka tea research centre. Just a few minutes away from the cooperative producing Kaori Ryokucha, in cooperation with the research centre.

This is a short version of a longer article on the second half of the trip here.

A beautiful view of Wazuka from the Azuma tea farm.
A beautiful view of Wazuka from the Azuma tea farm.

Japan, the aftermath

It has been an intense month both in June and July, with the master course and the trip itself to different regions. I enjoyed every moment. The comeback to Sweden made clear how exhausted I was at the end of the trip. It was challenging, but I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have met with so many farmers and other people with such a passion for tea.

I will be back in Japan soon. I have been given the opportunity to work on a tea farm. Providing that everything goes smoothly with my visa, you will be reading from me directly from the source soon. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to learning and sharing that knowledge here.

Recent Activity

For the master course post, I am still trying to decide how to write about it. It will happen at some point later on. Right now, I am also rushing to readjust to my life here in Sweden and preparing to move to Japan soon.

Another activity regarding the blog has been mainly to start compiling the couple hundred pages I took during the master course and my visits to several other locations. As I wrote in other newsletters, I am taking tea ceremony classes. Apart from regular practice, I have been reading about it from a few different books. I have been focusing on some historical events and figures regarding the tradition. I have found so many interesting details on how it shaped the culture and national identity of the country. In the section below, you will find a great book to get you started. I loved it so far.

A demonstration by a Chasen master craftsmen
A demonstration by a Chasen master craftsmen

There has been some background work organising a list of locations in a Google and Apple Maps list that I want to push to the resources page eventually. The page needs an overall improvement, so I have been planning how to make it easier for all of you to access the few resources there.

As written above, I also published the extended version of the trip here. It includes an overall description of the last 2 weeks in Japan.

What is next

I am writing a morning brew article about a hand-picked Sencha from Shizuoka. It is a long overdue post from Tsuchiya Nouen, a tea farm located in Kawane, one of the mountainous tea-growing areas of Shizuoka. She runs the farm together with her father and sometimes his husband too. The hand picking is done by experienced people from the village that has done it for many years, some of them since they were young. She has a great depth of knowledge, and it was refreshing to hear her opinions on some topics.

Next month, I will focus on my next tea cultivar post. I left some research and writing half done before the trip. And it has been gathering dust since then. I learned many things during the visits to farms and the course, and I look forward to introducing some of that in that kind of article. Some background work is going on for the next big project after the Tea Vault launches at the end of this summer. It will have tea cultivars as its focus. And it's gonna be a long, long project.

Going to keep working out small details about the Tea Vault project. I am waiting for a software update coming in 1-2 weeks. Once the project is up and running, the matter is keeping up the pace with content. Something I am known to do quite slowly, but we will get there.

Books and other fun stuff

I hadn't had much time to read in the first two weeks of the month. After the Food and Fantasy book by Eric C. Rath, I felt like just reading something light, even just taking a break from tea books for a couple of weeks. Then remembered that Simona from the GJTA shared with us a fantastic English translation from the work of Kumakura Isao by Martha J. McClintock.

The title is Japanese Tea Culture - The Heart and Form of Chanoyu. It is a book on the Japanese Matcha way of tea. The translation makes it easier and more accessible to read about the topic. I have to add that the translation is so well done, in my opinion. It is not just good book content but an enjoyable read as well. I forget that this is not the original language of the book, but so much of the author itself is conveyed through the book. The author supervised the translation process, and I believe you can feel that while reading. I really encourage anyone to read it.

If you are intrigued by the book, you can have the eBook version as an open-access book. The following link will give you the option to buy the book, which has a reasonably accessible price, or have each individual chapter as an eBook for free.

Japanese Tea Culture - The Heart and Form of Chanoyu
Japanese Tea Culture - The Heart and Form of Chanoyu

While in Kyoto, I found a second-hand store where I purchased a small old Sencha tea ceremony book. Hopefully, I will have the chance to get into it a bit next month.

That is it for this month. August will be a mix of low and high activity levels with the preparations for the trip back to Japan. And also a perfect moment to start gathering strength again and pour over the 100+ pages of notes I took during the course.

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