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Modern Mechanical Tea Harvest

May 15, 2019

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Author on the Japanese mechanical tea harvester

Ureshino City, Japan

Ureshino is the home of the oldest tea tree in Japan — planted 400 years ago — as well as the newest Japanese Tea Culture Museum just completed in 2018. The tea garden at the museum welcomed a group of tea enthusiasts on a World Tea Tour with the opportunity to try out two of the modern methods. One is a tractor-sized riding harvester designed for more open, large areas. A smaller version can function in smaller areas where the riding harvester is not practical. Like a large hedge clipper, it is light enough to be held level by two people with clipped leaves being blown into a collection bag. 

Small version of the mechanical tea harvester

Approximately 95% of the tea in Ureshino City is mechanically harvested. It is then processed into either pan-fried (Kamairi) tea or steamed for Tamaryoku tea (which is also rolled to get a curved shape). These processing methods come from Ming Dynasty China. It is a pairing of ancient tradition with modern technology to create fine tea.

All images provided by author, copyright belongs to photographer; used with permission

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