What is it like to harvest Japanese tea?

Let’s take a step back and refocus on what you’re likely to see on an average Japanese tea farm in 2020. Imagine you’re on a Japanese farm in Shizuoka-ken: Green hedges growing on a mountain with a Japanese farmer ready to harvest his tea. You want to help but don’t know how. The current technology would require you, the Japanese farmer, and the help of one more assistant. Standing in one row with the Japanese farmer in the row below you, the tea harvester moves with you along the top of the tea row. The assistant in tow helps lift the bag behind. You and the farmer move along the row of tea leaves slicing, dicing, and collecting tea. This helps tell the story of how far Japan has come in tea harvesting. But what other tools are available?

What else makes Japanese technology useful in harvests?

Another great example is a machine such as the Valiant Tea Harvester Model MCT-E. Perhaps one of the more unique pieces of technology out there, this machine has some notable similarities to what I’ve described above. This riding self-propelled tea harvester is more commonly used in flatter areas of Japan. It’s similar in many respects to the combine harvesters you may have seen in a Canadian or American wheat fields. The Model MCT-E, however, sits above 2 rows of tea and collects the tea as it drives by. While developed and introduced in the late 1960’s, the several-decades-worth of improvements have helped continue to push technology in not only tea harvesting but pruning as well. 

It’s no surprise that Japanese tea farmers have continued to change the world of tea harvesting through technology. Part of this story is supported by the sheer innovation that has generally supported Japan in the last number of years however it’s also hard to miss Japanese tea farmers and their love for the product we are all able to enjoy throughout our days. Take a moment between sips and imagine you’re on that Shizuoka tea farm – how would you see yourself with and without that technology?

Image provided by author who uses with permission