Tea Harvesting in Japan.
4 ways in which Japanese harvest tea.
- Hand harvesting
Some classical teas are still be harvested by hand as has been the practice for hundreds of years, such as in the case of Gyokuro. Sometimes this is because the farmer seeks the perfect leaf and bud for a special event or particularly great year. Another reason for hand tea harvesting is due to the step slopes in which the tea garden is located and the production is low.
- Motorized trimmer
Most of the small independent tea growers use a 2 man gas powered trimmer with a collector bag attached to it. Resembles much like a hedge trimmer. This is why most of the tea fields in Japan look so neat .
- Tracker Harvester
Larger tea corporations and coops use a harvester much like here in America’s large industrial farms. These harvesters are so computerized that they will practically drive themselves. You just key in which lot you are on and the computer knows when the last time the field has been harvested and how much it can cut off the top.
- Unmanned Robot Harvester
These harvesters are totally automated. They need no driver. They ride on tracks and work all day long.
As you can see, there aren’t many romantic stories of beautiful women plucking tea as most of the tea in Japan is harvested with the use of some type of machinery. This is also why there are no “Fair Trade” teas in Japan, it is not task that puts so much stress on the farmers and processors. The tea plants are hardly touched by human hands all the way along the production line to the store. One of the final steps in most production locations is actually running the leaf though a computerized machine which can detect and sorts even a human hair or unwanted twig from the garden. Thus less chance of contamination in the finished product. You can enjoy this healthy beverage with confidence knowing no human being was abused along the way. In fact most farmers in Japan are so highly valued they are considered among the most important contributors to society and many live lifestyles more fully enriched than high level financial executives. Just goes to prove, Japanese people know you can’t eat or drink money, we need farmers and producers and show them respect.