The second step is of course to harvest the leaves when the right time has come. Since we work with many different cultivars and tea types we have several tea fields to harvest. As mentioned in our previous post, in order to produce the best green tea possible the tea farmer needs to know the characteristics of each field.
These are located on different areas, elevation and will benefit from specific weather conditions. When the first picking time is getting closer we need to organise ourselves in order to precisely schedule the picking date for each tea field.
To add to the complexity, depending on the final product, the picking method is different. For Sencha for example we will use machines, but for Gyokuro it will all be hand picked. Sometimes, bringing the harvesting machines is also a challenge, as some of the tea fields hidden on higher grounds with little access.
Driving these funny machines is sometimes a challenge, you need to keep yourself rightly aligned and be very careful on the tea trees (but they ARE fun to drive though ! 🙂
Sometimes, on the same tea field the harvesting can be scheduled over several days in order to have the perfect leaves maturity.
Hand picking the tea leaves as you may imagine is a laborious work that also need to a lot of knowledge. For premium quality gyokuro you need to pick only the BEST leaves, and only older people got this knowledge.
Whenever the first picking moment is approaching there is a lot of excitement for everyone involved in the process ! If you have the chance to be in the Yame area at that moment, try to have a glimpse of this beautiful traditional way of picking tea leaves.