May 6, 1998:A tea field in Oita: by Mie

I have visited a tea field in Shonoharu, located close to
Oita interchange of East Kyushu express way. I have never
been aware of the field in such an unexpected place.
Tea-picking generally starts at 88th day from the beginning
of spring, but it was actually begun from the 22nd April,
a little earlier, this year. This is because we have had much
rain and higher temperature. The farmer says it is already
at the end of the "first picking."

The field covers about 240,000 square meters and
started in 1903.
In the upper tea plantation, the mechanical picking has already
been over. Those two farmers pick tea by hands for their own
use at the corner where picking machine can't access. How
delicious it would be to enjoy tea picked by themselves!

Another farmer comes from neighbor and uses a specially
designed shears for cutting tea leaves for in-house use.
The right-hand blade of the shears is provided with a vinyl
bag, to which left-hand blade cuts and throw tea leaves
efficiently. A good idea!
The tea processing plant is open to visitors.
The container holds plenty of machine picked first leaves.
The size of a leaf is larger than usual due to quick growing
this year. It has little flavor, but the crop amount was enough,
the master nods satisfactorily.
The leaves are sent to the steamer by the belt conveyor.
Steam comes up from the machine.
The leaves are steamed up within about 30 seconds.
The color of the leaves turn to fresh green after the steamer.
They are conveyed to the dryer in which leaves are dried in
an hour. A very good flavor fills the factory.
The leaves are next sent to the hot curler which removes
the damp of the leaves completely and at the same time
curled them up to become fine product.
Then, packed and displayed like this as fine products.
There are many kinds of the product from powder, medium
size, and the highest quality tea. The price also covers wide
The young homemaker kindly served me cups of the fresh tea.
I am busy to take pictures. I am sorry turning my back to you.
The pretty young homemaker feels somewhat shy to be taken
by video film. "I am impatient in nature and not so good at
serving tea", she lovely smiles. The tea was very sweet and
Tazaki Onkoen tea garden was founded eighty years ago,
covering three generations. He is the second generation of
the master. The tea trees are in the second generation.
See something standing at the corner of the wall? This is the
first plant's root, once stretched deep into the soil.
I took a picture in commemoration with the long root and
the long life of the elder man.

They don't use chemical fertilizer but gather cutting grass from
all over Oita city to make natural compost instead. "When I
look over the tea field, I can hear the voice of tea requesting
manure," he continues "It is good for the world to become
convenient, but at the same time there comes a lot of
bad effects. I want to keep produce tasteful tea as long as I can."