Apr 2010 | Vol.11 MUSO NEWS
Written by Miyuki Hosokawa
Infinite Power of Nature in a Sip


We practice neither dense planting nor restrained farming. This is why our tea is HAPPY. We are building tea forest not mere tea field.

Summer is just around the corner on the eighty eighth night (from the first day of spring), The color green is all over hills and streets."Look, over there! Can you see tea-leaf pickers with red tie on shoulders and a carex hat?

This is a famous children’s song that every Japanese has sung or at least heard before. This song describes the scenery of traditional tea-picking in early summer.

 
 

Muso’s newly contracted tea estate Mukojima, the tea picking is about to begin blessing the fresh green aroma of young tea leaves.
Mukojima is a family-run tea estate that has been dedicated in organic tea farming for almost 30 years. Mukojima resides in a very quiet mountain area in Shizuoka, the most famous tea place in Japan. Needless to say, the unspoiled beautiful nature and fresh water naturally sprung nearby helps them to make wonderful and tasty teas.

 

In harmony with nature
In 1985, the father of the current owner of Mukojima estate first started organic tea farming. At that time, tea was selling well in Japan and growers were more concerned with production efficiency. As a consequence, pesticides were sprinkled without limit. Apparently, the word "organic" was not common back in those days.
 
However, he, who was the oldest son of a tea farmer, simply felt very sorry for tea plants as the same life as he was and decided to go for organic farming, overcoming strong opposition from his parents and acquaintances.

Enormous efforts, money and time had been spent to achieve his ideal tea production that harmonized with nature, was sustainable and the taste should be also satisfied. It took 6 years since switching to organic tea farming until he regained the original yield. Unfortunately, he passed away of disease. In 2004, his young son, Kazuto, took over the tea estate at the age of 18. Kazuto, who grew up helping parents tea farming from his childhood, surely inherits his father’s enthusiasm for tea as a life. He visits his tea fields every day to enjoy conversation with tea plants and check if tea is growing fine, just like parent’s rearing children. He said "the more often I go to the tea field, the more tea plants show affection."
 

"Stress-free" cultivation
The biggest feature of Mukojima’s tea is they try to grow tea plants in what we call "stress-free" environment.
Usually, tea farmers plant tea trees very close to each other (see below, left photo) to increase the yield. On the other hand, in the Mukojima estate, they plant tea individually with adequate space around them (below right photo) so that tea plants can receive enough sunlight and nutrition from the soil. Thus, they are able to thrive as freely and naturally as possible. Whereas the roots of closely-planted tea trees are 1 – 2 meters in length; the roots of Mukojima’s tea trees grow about 3 – 4 meters long and the trunk and stems are apparently much bigger! It is believed these "stress-free" tea plants tend to be resilient to pests and possess more self healing power.

 
Typical tea trees
 
Mukojima's tea tree
     

Using Mukojima’s vigorous teas, we developed organic tea bags in an innovative pyramid shape!

Organic Sencha
tea bags 1.5g
 
Hojicha tea bags 1.5g
 
 
     
Tea leaves

Brewed tea

Total Catechins
16900mg
42.7mg
Caffeine
596mg
9.5mg

/100g

 
Tea leaves

Brewed tea

Total Catechins
3050mg
8.50mg
Caffeine
86mg
8mg

/100g

*Catechin is a type of polyphenol that is known for its strong anti-oxidant effect and it is abundant in Japanese tea, especially in Sencha, which does not undergo fermentation process. Recent study shows that Catechin suppresses aging of cells, keeps skin young, prevents flu, lowers cholesterol, helps boost metabolism to aid weight loss etc.

Mukojima’s tea is also used for part of Muso’s organic loose tea; Kukicha, Hojicha, Sencha and Hira-Bancha.

For more info about Organic Sencha and Hojicha, visit our Global site »

A little bit more about Japanese Tea

Japanese tea is really versatile. Used tea leaves are called "Chagara" and have been used for the second purpose from the old times in Japan. Reuse the tea bags (or loose tea leaves) after enjoy the taste according to the Japanese old wisdom!

 

Clean the floor with Tea
Squeeze the used tea bag (or loose tea leaves), tear the bag and sprinkle the wet tea leaves on the floor (not carpet) and sweep together with broom. Tea leaves effectively catch the dust and leave a slight, fresh scent of tea!

 


Deodorizing
Dry used tea bags (or loose tea leaves) thoroughly under the sun and put them in a small container to place at a corner of fridge or shoebox. It will help reduce common odors.

 

Hand Cleaning
Rub your hands with used, wet tea leaves to remove certain cooking scents (like that of seafood).

 


Sencha Bath
Dry used sencha tea bags (or dry used loose tea leaves and put in a cloth bag) and put them in bath tub with hot water and soak. It is said that sencha’s antiseptic property is effective for skin problems such as atopy, athlete's foot etc. Also, the fresh aroma of sencha is good for relaxing.

Gardening
Dry the used tea leaves and sprinkle on flowerbed to keep the insects away.

Recipe of Japanese Tea

"Chagayu" or tea rice porridge is a traditional local food that has been eaten in specific areas in Japan such as Nara or Wakayama almost daily. At old temples in Nara, Chagayu is served for breakfast. It is said that Chagayu taken after Buddhist liturgy in the early morning has the following ten graces:

- healthy complexion
- good physical strength
- longevity
- prevent eating too much
- clear thinking
- easy digestion
- satisfy hunger
- quench’s thirst
- improve bowel movements


 

Chagayu (Hojicha-flavored Rice Porridge)

Ingredients:
1 cup of brown rice
6 cups of water
3 pcs of Hojicha tea bags (remove the tag)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:
(1) Rinse brown rice and drain.
(2) In a pot, put water and Hojicha tea bags and bring to a boil. Heat for another few minutes until the water turns brown. Remove the teabags from the pot.
(3) In a pressure cooker, put brown rice, Hojicha (2)., and salt. Following the instruction of your pressure cooker, cook over high heat. Once pressure is reached, lower the heat to a setting that will just maintain pressure and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.
(4) Serve with Umeboshi or Takuan.

When you have a little appetite, a great idea is to also have Chagayu chilled in summer. It’s delicious and satisfying; give it a try!

More our recipes at http://www.muso-intl.com/recipe/