Tea Gardens of Scotland

It is the year of tea in Kyoto. Lots of events are held in Kyoto throughout the year (from April 2017 through March 2018) under the name of “Discover Premium Green”.

One of the events, but the first one as an international version, “International Expo” was held on Nov.10 and 11. Some tea-related groups from overseas participated it.

One of the exhibitors is “Tea Gardens of Scotland (TGS)”, which is a group of nine of female tea farmers who grow tea in Scotland!

In Japan, it's generally said that Akita prefecture, which is located at lat.40 NL is the northernmost place for growing tea. Scotland is further north! So I was surprised to hear that tea has been cultivated in Scotland, and I was so excited to know that people who grow tea in Scotland were coming to Japan.

Ms Beverly Wainwright, the adviser of TGS, and Ms Catherine Drummond-Herdman, one tea farmer of the group attended this Kyoto Expo all the way from Scotland, and spoke about what they have been doing and their visions.

Micro-scale artisan tea production for Sri Lanka to Scotland by Mrs Wainwright

Megginch Castle  Our family tea story, so far by Mrs Drummond-Herdman

They also promoted these at the venue:

Tea “Kinnettles Gold”: the one of the group produced as the first tea grown and produced in Scotland, which means 100% pure Scottish tea. Many who came to the event were tea people including farmers, workers for tea factory and tea shops, who all know how tough the tea producing is. They were surprised, impressed, and amazed by what TGS members have been doing. And they really appreciate the tea with a delicate flavour, a hint of honey-sweet taste and a beautiful golden colour. I remember a lady who tasted said “ I can really tell this tea has been raised and produced with tender loving care."

Japanese style teacup known as yunomi by Crail Pottery, which is specially designed for this expo. You would feel warm and relaxed when you hold the cup gently and carefully with both hands as if you wrap it with two hands. Happy blending of Scotland and Japan.

Scottish sweets: savory seaweed shortbread from Stag bakers, and mini round shortbread from Your Piece baking company.

Actually, very luckily and happily, I had a chance to talk and spend the time with them privately.

The more I hear their ideas and passions, the more I feel impressed.The more I learn about their visions, the more I find common ground with Wakocha (Japanese black tea) ---- trying to produce unique tea, which can be made only in that region, working together with local specialty including food and pottery etc, deepening the band of community through local tea, boosting the local economy through local tea industry-----

Beverly has already succeeded in breathing new life into many tea estates and its community, and supported small-scale tea places. One of the places she revived is the Amba estate in Sri Lanka. It must have been a tough job. She said she made a lots of failures before she made a success, but she had never given up. I’m enormously impressed by her perseverance and strength when listening her story of tea life. Also the words she repeated stayed with me: that is; “ prepare for failure”, “failure is leaning”..

Nine members of “Tea Gardens of Scotland” including Catherine have been challenging the big project, which had never been done before in Scotland. Catherine says “Nobody did tea production in Scotland before. That’s why it’s good!” Also, when she talks about what she wants to do, she doesn’t use the word of “dream”. She says “vision” instead. I can see her strong determination and I can tell she can definitely see what to do.

I assume there are still lots of difficulties ahead of them. It won’t be easy to be a trailblazer. But I believe Catherine and other eight members will see them through, and their visions and passions will be realized under the advice of the person of indomitable will, Beverly. Yes, they will make it happen!

*Website: Tea Gardens of Scolandhttps://teagardensofscotland.co.uk/


Tea is a great contributor - Jikocha Summit in Minamata -

An annual Japanese black tea event known as "Jikocha (local black tea) Summit " was held in Minamata city, Kumamoto prefecture on Nov.4 and 5. It was the 16th event. 

It was originally started as the meeting where tea farmers gathering from all over the country share the information and improve their producing skills. Recently, it is also the opportunity to popularize and sell their black tea more.

People sampled the tea from more than 30 different tea farmers’ stands . Other than that, there are various local sweets shops, food stands too.

There were various seminars for farmers and tea people including:
how to produce better tea, the future of the black tea, the marketing, the research of “zairai (native tea)” for tea

For customers; how to enjoy Japanese black tea, and Afternoon tea with Japanese black tea etc....

During 2-day event, more than 6000 people in total came to the venue. As the event in a local city, it was a great great success.

This event is usually organized by local tea farmers. Other than them, a lots of supports from the local government and its community is a must. Without their help, the event will fail. 

This event is not only for tea farmers to learn more to improve the quality of tea. In addition to that, it boosts the local economy, helps the community work together, helps the local people both grow-ups and kids learn their own foods and drink.

This is more than just a fun event. This is just the beginning for community to be developed further. And tea is a great contributor to it.


Japanese Words for Geeks

The other day, I was asked what to say those in Japanese. So….FYR.

*Tekisai 摘採 tea plucking
* Icho 萎凋 withering
* Junen 揉捻 rolling
* Hakko 発酵 oxidation
* Kanso 乾燥 drying

Little bit more…..

* Zairai 在来Native tea grown of the region from of old, not the one propagated from cultivars. 
(Actually, since the origin of zairai is unknown, strictly speaking, some may not be really native. But it became a part of native over a long long period of time. )
* Yamacha 山茶: wild tea
* Misho 実生: seedling
* Sashiki 挿し木: cutting

Zairai is a tricky word. The definition is a bit ambiguous. Actually, zairai is sometimes explained the tea from seed, which is true. But tea from seed is not always called zairai in Japanese. Some cultivars are propagated from seed too.