2023 May round up

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

The space in between harvests

May comes to a close after a busy month for tea farms. After the initial Shincha race that began in April with the Spring harvest, there is all the rest of the leaves to process. In some areas, they are still going through the harvest and processing. Preparations for the summer harvest are already happening in some areas as well.

How much tea have you bought this year? As I explained in the last newsletter, I usually don't buy Shincha right after it is processed. I prefer buying spring harvest teas together with Shincha, if any. This year I have been talking with Tatefumi Mataki-san, a farmer from Soo City in the south of Kyushu. Last January had the chance to talk to him online at one of the Meet the Farmer Events by the Global Japanese Tea Association. His Kabusecha was incredible, and his light-roasted Houjicha is a twist to the usual roasting techniques. I have been waiting since January to buy new teas from him, and by the time this newsletter comes out, he should have his new teas available for sale.

As I wrote in the past newsletter, I will travel to Japan this summer to participate in the GJTA Master Tea Course. On top of that, I will also be visiting some farms during my stay in the country. Unfortunately, I will not be able to meet Mataki-san this time. I will try to post some articles about his teas and other farms I will visit during the trip.

Recent Activity

I am still gathering places and experiences for the trip this summer. If you have any recommendations or suggestions, feel free to send them to me. You can reply to this email or look for us on our Instagram account.

This month a post about the book "The Old Tea Seller - Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century" has been published. The book is an excellent biography of Baisao's life and literary work. It is a great book about the life of an eccentric character that defined Japanese tea, art, and cultural movements during the 18th century.

The tea vault

The initial preparations for the new system to publish the interconnected notes are done and will launch after summer. I will send some test links beforehand to some readers I know personally and roll it out soon after that. The initial content available there will be small. It will increase over time and be updated periodically. The new system will be tied up to the software I use to write those notes and will reflect any change I make to them. I will be publishing those changes in a weekly fashion at the beginning.

You can see an image of the extent of the content that should be available at some point below. This image includes around 300 notes, ideas, topics, cultivars or concepts regarding tea. Of this, only about 5-10 will initially launch, as most of these notes need to be rewritten to fit the style I want to give to them. Most include passages from books, other blogs etc. Those need to be edited and referenced before I can publish them.

What is next

I am writing a note all about tea-related topics of the Kyoto prefecture. This post will probably be done in two parts. There is not enough time to write all of it before the trip. During the trip to Japan, I will spend the 2 first weeks in that prefecture, which will probably add a few things to the article as well.

At the first launch, you can expect an introduction to the region, with its growing areas and regional tea brands. I will provide a map highlighting the location on a map as well. It will also include some notable events that shaped the region and historical tea locations around the prefecture.

I have recently started taking classes in Tea Ceremony 茶の湯 it is quite an overload of information at the beginning. Eventually, I will write some articles exploring the subject once I feel more confident understanding this tradition.

Books and other fun stuff

This month I have been reading Making Tea Making Japan by Kristin Surak. I have gone through around half of the book. It is quickly becoming one of my favourite tea-related books I have read so far. Easy to read and packed with information, it is not only a view of the tea ceremony but how it shaped the nationalistic sense of Japan during its early and current times.

Another find I came across this past week was episode 7 of the Tea Soup podcast. I included this podcast on the resources page under the podcast public list. Episode 7 is a personal view and reflection on the supply chain and its main currency, trust. I enjoyed the conversation where Derek from One River Tea shared his experience during his sourcing trips and how the tea community can talk about truth, untruth and misinformation in tea. A great personal and reflective episode I recommend anyone to listen to.

That is it for this month. I am excited about the trip this summer and to get suggestions or topics you would like me to investigate while in Japan. There is another project cooking in the back of my mind, more after summer.

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