Friday, April 27, 2012

It is brighter than I imagined

Tea plants shoot out buds and new leaves in spring.  You pick them and make the first tea of the year.  Now is the season!  

Some of you might have experienced tea picking, but I believe that not many people have had a chance to observe actual tea producing processes.  I attended a practical workshop of producing sencha.  I observed an actual tea processing line at an agricultural experiment station.  I would like to write about it in some of my entries.

The station has some tea fields and some processing lines.  Tea plants for common teas like sencha are grown under the sun like in the picture on the top.  On the other hand, can you find a black covered thing in the following picture?   To make gyokuro and matcha, you cover the tea plants a little after the buds shoot out.  Then about 20 days later, they are ready to be picked.  In the latter half of the covering period, they'd be blocking about 97% of the light from getting to the plant.  By blocking the light, the leaves try to catch more light.  They get bigger and undulated to create more surface area.  They also gain chlorophyll, and get darker in color.  How smart plants are!  This makes the tea leaves with a lot of umami!

I was so excited to get a chance to get in the covers.  This was my first time!  I was curious about the world with only 3% of light.

My first impression was … Bright!   It was much brighter than I imagined.  I expected it to be pretty dark, but it actually wasn’t.  See, I could even take a picture.  I got to realize that sunlight is very powerful.  Hahaha,

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