About our farm
〜Why Our Tea is Special〜
We, at Tokushiba Farms, are a team dedicated to cultivating pesticide-free tea in the Kasahara district of Kurogi-town, Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Founded in 2016 by Representative Toshiharu Horiuchi, we passionately work alongside young individuals who share our values, putting in our efforts to create genuine, delicious, and safe tea.
【About our location Kasahara】
"Tea is Yame, and Yame is tea," an old saying from the Edo period.
Yame tea, famous throughout Japan, originated in the Kasahara area. Its history dates back to 1406 when Zen monk Shuzui, played a crucial role. Shuzui studied at Lingyin Temple in China, bringing back tea seeds to Japan. Then he embarked on a journey across the country, ultimately arriving in the Kagou village of Chikugo (now the Kasahara area). He was astonished to find the landscape reminiscent of Lingyin Temple in Suzhou, China. Recognizing the area's suitability for tea cultivation, he established the Reigan-ji there and devoted himself to both Zen practice and the transmission of tea cultivation and processing techniques. His efforts are considered the origin of Yame tea.
(Statue of Shuzui master on the mountain of Reigan-ji and view of Kasahara)
Eventually, green tea seeds and growing techniques spread all over the Yame area. Tokushiba Organic Tea grows in the these mountains, just around Reigan-ji Temple.
(Our tea field in mountain forest)
At Tokushiba Farms, we cultivate tea in the Kasahara area. This region is nestled amidst lush mountains, benefiting from a warm climate with cool mornings and evenings—ideal conditions for tea cultivation. This environment, coupled with our commitment, has positioned Yame tea as a highly regarded source of premium tea throughout Japan.
However, modern agricultural trends lean towards efficient mass production using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, often favoring flatland cultivation. Even in the Kasahara area, this trend's influence is undeniable, posing challenges for the tea industry. Many farms have closed, youth interest in farming has dwindled, and the region faces the reality of becoming a depopulated area.
In 2016, founder of this farm Toshiharu Horiuchi began cultivating tea in this region. Inheriting abandoned tea fields, we transitioned entirely to pesticide-free practices. We gathered a vibrant group of young individuals, working diligently in this area, preserving the art of authentic tea cultivation. We take pride in delivering the taste of Yame tea, grounded in tradition and passion. Moreover, our vision is to rejuvenate this region, which was once prospered through tea but fell into decline, by using tea as a catalyst.
- Our Commitment -
Commonly, it's believed that tea without chemical fertilizers lacks flavor. However, we enhance tea quality by utilizing homemade compost. This compost replenishes nitrogen and imparts a deep flavor to the tea.
Furthermore, we introduce composting to fortify crops and cultivate tea with increased disease resistance. This technique strengthens plants, leading to resilient tea leaves capable of withstanding diseases.
Situated at a high altitude in the mountainous region, our farm benefits from minimal pest attacks without requiring extensive pest control measures. This enables us to respect traditional farming methods and harness the blessings of nature. We use materials such as mushroom substrate, rice husks, rice bran, bamboo chips, fishmeal, and charcoal to meticulously create our compost in-house. Through such thorough soil enrichment, we offer tea of the utmost quality and flavor.
By rejecting pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides, we endeavor to provide consumers with safe and enjoyable tea. While we face challenges like weed removal during summer, we take pride in our commitment to this endeavor.
(A photo of compost turning in progress and our soil)
We have obtained the Japanese organic certification, known as "Organic JAS." However, it's important to note that the Organic JAS regulations permit the use of certain pesticides. As a result, we believe that the Organic JAS label alone does not fully attest to the safety of our tea. To address this, we have independently conducted thorough testing for residues of over 200 agricultural chemicals. The outcome of these tests revealed that no traces of any chemical substances were detected in our tea.
(Results of residual pesticide testing for over 200 substances)
More than half of tea quality is determined during the manufacturing process. While tea is often sent to factories for processing in the conventional tea industry, we have taken over a decommissioned factory to perform in-house processing.
Considering factors like leaf condition, variety, and weather, we finely adjust steam time, machine temperature, and airflow to achieve the desired results. Indeed, even a slight difference in steaming time leads to a distinct flavor profile, demonstrating the delicacy and expertise required in this process.
Moreover, we produce not only green tea but also black tea and roasted tea. While these teas originate from the same leaves, their processing methods vary. Each tea requires specific processing techniques, which may undergo subtle adjustments.
"Encountering tea is a once-in-a-lifetime experience." We document each step meticulously, aiming to replicate successful processes. However, challenges are inevitable, and tea-making proves to be a profound and rewarding endeavor. We are dedicated to the pursuit of crafting the most delicious tea, continuously striving for perfection. We find joy in our work, valuing the experience. Above all, cherishing every stage of the process is paramount to us. Believing that tea is a plant deeply influenced by its environment's vibrations, we work while enjoying favorite music, sharing jokes, and boosting our vibrancy. For us, embracing joy is the most crucial aspect, and we believe this delight reflects in the tea's quality.
(Sun-drying the harvested tea leaves.)
Ensuring Healthy Tea Safely
Tea has long been both a beverage of choice and a medicinal remedy. It's attributed with numerous health benefits. Let's explore some common advantages of tea:
- Antioxidant Properties: Tea contains catechins and polyphenols, among other compounds, with antioxidative effects that mitigate cell damage caused by oxidative stress.
- Stress Relief: Amino acids and theanine found in tea induce relaxation and alleviate tension.
- Metabolism Boost: Caffeine-containing teas (such as green and black tea) activate metabolism, promoting energy expenditure.
- Blood Pressure Regulation: Certain teas are believed to lower blood pressure, contributing to hypertension prevention.
- Immune System Enhancement: Tea constituents strengthen the immune system, bolstering the body's resistance.
- Blood Sugar Stabilization: Some teas slow the rise of blood sugar levels, aiding diabetes management.
- Fat Breakdown: Catechins assist in fat decomposition, supporting weight loss efforts.
- Dental Health: Fluoride and tannins in tea maintain dental health, helping to prevent cavities.
- Brain Activation: Caffeine and theanine enhance focus, attention, and brain activation.
- Heart Disease Prevention: Tea compounds potentially improve blood flow, contributing to heart disease prevention.
Tea has been cherished for centuries not only as a beverage of enjoyment but also as a medicinal remedy. We believe that its deliciousness and health benefits are crucial attributes. While the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers can indeed enhance productivity, they also have the potential to introduce harmful elements, contradicting the very essence of tea's significance.
Driven by our founder's conviction against endorsing anything less than exceptional, we prioritize "safety and trust" and "exquisite flavor" in our tea-making approach. This sentiment resonates across various food industries, and in the current tea industry, it's often challenging to discern where and by whom a product is crafted. For instance, tea sourced from China or India might be purchased by Japanese tea traders, packaged, and then sold as Japanese tea. Additionally, while we have obtained organic certification, as previously mentioned, authorized pesticides are permitted within these certifications. Our organic certification entails annual expenses, yet it lacks the testing of soil and products for pesticide residues—relying solely on reports. Such practices hardly serve as a testament to the safety of food products.
By meticulously overseeing the entire process from cultivation and manufacturing to packaging, we offer tea that can be chosen with enhanced confidence. We also undertake compost creation, explore novel manufacturing methods, and passionately embrace the art of tea-making, resulting in a distinctive pursuit of delectable tea.
Let us conclude by sharing our vision.
The tea industry in the Kasahara region, boasting a 600-year history, is currently facing an existential crisis. The advancement of farming practices focused on pesticides and chemical fertilizers has led to a shift towards more productive production in flatlands. This, coupled with the outflow of youth to urban areas, has rendered Kasahara an area often referred to as a declining settlement. In this region, neglected fields without successors are conspicuous, and many tea factories have become ruins.
With the current agricultural trajectory, the tea industry in this area is undoubtedly heading towards extinction. We are taking over such tea gardens and factories, transitioning all to pesticide-free methods, and engaging in the creation of "authentic" tea. We craft tea that we can confidently recommend, while maintaining a direct connection with consumers, allowing us to prioritize fair trade at appropriate prices.
In the current tea industry, farmers are often squeezed by tea merchants through low-margin transactions. While our approach might result in lower production, we are dedicated to creating authenticity and selling at fair prices. This strategy enables us to secure sustainable profits, ensuring the continuation and growth of this venture. Our vision and mission lie in achieving a V-shaped recovery for the fading tea industry in this region.
Moreover, this fair trade approach brings benefits to consumers as well, enabling transactions at favorable prices. This embodies our core values and commitments, as we stand firmly committed to revitalizing the tea industry and fostering positive change for a sustainable future!!