While spring in Central Europe is repeatedly interrupted by cold stages, it is comparatively warm in Japan. In the first months of the year it was relatively warm and dry. With the month of March, however, the rain arrived, which is very important for the growth and quality of the teas.
After we already had video calls with all our partners in Japan to talk about the new harvest and also our upcoming visit, today came the news from Keita Watanabe that they have started the harvest 2023. Kabuse Kuritawase, the earliest component of Watanabe Kabuse Shincha was harvested on March 30, 2023 and first processed into aracha. Keita writes that the first day of harvesting was a bit troublesome because it is raining a lot on Yakushima right now. Because even if there is a break in the rain and harvesting could be done, the nets for shading are still wet and heavy due to the rain. When rolling up, you then have to be very careful not to break off the fresh shoots. Subsequently, the leaves have to dry a bit before they can actually be harvested.
We learned in advance that this year we can expect a normal to slightly early harvest date. And that is what happened. At Mankichi and Keita Watanabe on Yakushima, the first harvest normally begins at the turn of the month, or the first days of April. However, since Kuritawase is a special shrub variety bred specifically for the southern islands and starts growing exceptionally early, we have to wait a little longer for the other ingredient for Kabuse Shincha. So a little patience is needed until the first tea of the year will arrive here.