Producer of the Moment: Mr. Suzuki
Meet our producer of the moment, M. Takeshi Suzuki, Kukicha green tea producer in Isagawa, Shizuoka prefecture.
Hugo met Mr. Suzuki through another farmer, Mr. Morishita, who also lived and worked on the Isagawa mountain. It must be pointed out that the producers from this region work as a team, they are very closely knit. In fact, they all went to primary school together and grew up in the tea fields.
When and how did you first step into the world of tea?
After my graduation from the agricultural college, I returned to my parents’ home as a Nihoncha instructor ( Japanese tea instructor) and started farming. I had studied organic farming and was instructed on every step of the process, from the seeding of the plants to the final shiage (final transformation of the leaves), including harvesting, steaming, roasting and all other steps in between…
Tell us a bit more about your gardens. Do you own the tea gardens? How big are your tea gardens?
Overall our Isagawa tea gardens cover 20 hectares and range from 350m to 550m in altitude. I own 5 of these hectares. It was natural for me to start farming here. Stony ground and cool climate are very suitable for organic farming and they are necessary to produce high-quality teas.
How many workers do you hire and how much tea do you produce a year?
The Isagawa tea gardens are all family run. There are a total of 35 families and about 100 people. We, as a whole, produce around 30 tons of aracha (the “raw” tea, before it undergoes shiage) per year.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I like to breathe the fresh mountain air while I work.
Who’s buying your teas? Local or international clients?
Almost exclusively domestic clients.
Have you seen any changes since your beginnings in the industry?
When we started farming organic teas a few years back, clients were not so interested in it. But recently, it seems that more people understand what organic tea is and our products are more appreciated.
What is your favorite tea?
What I like most is to drink Sencha while eating onigiri (rice balls) as a relaxing break.
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