Our second Meet the Tea Farmer event was held on 26th August and our guest tea farmer this time was Jun Watanabe – the 4th generation tea farmer from Shimada, Shizuoka.
Watanabe-san’s family has been farming Japanese tea for over a hundred years with the focus on Fukamushicha – deep steamed green tea typical to the region. While continuing family traditions Jun was always into experimentation and innovation. He calls himself the first penguin – the first to jump into the sea in search of food. Watanabe-san was among the first to start grinding matcha in Shizuoka. He was also among the few pioneers to install solar panels above the tea fields, that not only produce electricity but also give shading for the tea plant.
His new project is to steer his farm from steamed tea production to pan-fried tea production. In 2020 he experimented with producing organically grown pan-fried Wakoucha and Oolongcha, using Kanaya Midori cultivar. The participants, covering North America, Europe and Japan, were lucky to taste those two teas and gave the thumbs of approval. Watanabe-san mentioned that he was going to install pan-frying machines in his factory and will start full scale production in 2021.