Friday, July 8, 2011

Tosa Tea ②

    In April, we went to visit the Ikegawa Tea Cooperative in Niyodogawa Town to talk to them about the tea industry in Kochi.
Sprinklers are used to prevent frost build-up in winter,
and the lines over the plantations are used to run a black tarp
along that protects the new leaves before a harvest.
   Tosa-cha are cultivated on steep mountain sides in temperatures that differ greatly between day and night. The change in temperature causes a blanket of fog that covers the tea plantations to minimize direct sunlight which allows the plants to grow slowly and acquire a stronger flavour. The sloping landscape allows good water flow that assist in the growth of tea. The tea plants are watered by sprinklers not only on very hot days but it is also used in the cold winter months to get rid of frost that damage the leaves. In addition, electric fans on high poles of over 6m over the tea plants are also used to protect from the frost by passing warmer air from above ground to the plantations.

Head of the cooperative Mr Takemura
showing us how to use the curved tea-reaper
   During harvest, only the top 1-2 inches of the tea plant are plucked. Currently a tea reaper is the most efficient way to harvest the leaves. A team of three people work together, two people hold each side of the reaper to crop, and the other person stays behind the reaper and catches the cropped tea leaves into bags.

   In consideration for environmental and health concerns, slow-release fertilizers are used.

   Tea processing takes about 4 hours. First, after tea leaves are harvested they are steamed and then cooled. Steaming tea retains its colour and makes the tea richer and sweeter. The moisture is allowed to evaporate gradually, and the leaves are then rolled, shaped, and dried. At the end of this process “aracha” is produced, which is a raw product mostly exported to Shizuoka for further processing and blending and eventually sold as Shizuoka tea. 80% of the tea produced here at the Ikegawa Cooperative is sent to Shizuoka, Japan's biggest producer of tea, while 20% remain for other purposes like local consumption as Tosa-cha. To increase consumption, apart from the usual packages of tea for brewing, Tosa-cha is also made into teabags, or powdered to be used in confectionery.

   At Ikegawa, the first harvest, or “ichiban-cha” is taken from the end of April to the beginning of May. All of their Tosa-cha are made from ichiban-cha. Niban-cha, or second harvest, is often not used or are mixed with ichiban-cha and sold cheaply, as the taste greatly diminishes with a second harvest.

   A really high quality tea that is only produced in small amounts each year is kabuse-cha. To produce this tea, a black tarp (kabuse) is drawn over the new leaves a week before the first harvest. This cover reduces the intake of sunlight and in turn the tannins that are produced in the tea. The tea produced from this (kabuse-cha) has a sweeter taste and aroma.

Taken from vol.42  published in July 2011 Tosa Tea Edition


  1. Tosa Tea contains the active ingredients catechin, vitamin C, and saponin. Tosa cha cafe is a newly opened tea house in Obiyamachi. Tosa tea is grown in the mountainous regions.

  2. Tosa Tea is very good type of tea. I like its taste. I have tasted only once. It is very good in taste and fragrance.

  3. Thanks for sharing useful article mate, Tosa Tea is so good for health and fitness. It contains essential vitamin and rich in other nutrition. It has nice flavor as well as taste.

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