Site-Wide Activity Forums Tea Conversations Hand picked vs machine picked Japanese tea

16 replies, 9 voices Last updated by  riccaicedo 5 years, 3 months ago
  • Author
    Posts
  • #6011

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    From what I’ve seen machine picked tea is the norm in Japan. When I first looked into harvesting methods there, I was surprised. It contradicted the somewhat romanticized image I had of tea pickers in traditional Japanese dress plucking away carefully by hand. Ever seen any such pics? I had.

    Now I’m curious whether you as consumer mind, how it’s harvested? Does hand plucked taste better? Have you ever gone out of your way to buy artisan Japanese tea? Have you ever had any? Did you even know it’s usually machine harvested?  What difference, if any does it make?

    Wondering…
    J.

  • #6012

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    I didn’t know it was machine harvested but it is logical since labour costs are so high in Japan.

    Does it make a difference? I don’t know.

  • #6013

    Charles
    Participant
    @charles.cain

    The Japanese tea industry is ridiculously high tech.  I’ve seen machinery that analyzes and separates leaf from leaf based on length and color (so as to remove stems and yield a consistent grade).  As far as I’m aware, the vast majority of Japanese tea is machine harvested and processed, but because of their technological advancement and strict standards, the quality is unsurpassed.

  • #6014

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    Japan and high tech…

    Do you have pictures of these machines?

  • #6015

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie
    Here’s a pic and a video. The vid shows a more low tech machine, which is certainly less costly for the small farmer.
  • #6016

    peter
    Keymaster
    @peter

  • #6017

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    And I am sure the next video will show us a robot harvesting tea.

  • #6018

    Sir William of the Leaf
    Participant
    @sirwilliamoftheleaf

    Only on rare occasion will you find a hand picked and hand produced tea from Japan. Those are artisan teas that usually only are available in only a few kilos every year. As for the machine harvesting, it is still the most heavily utilized method for picking and producing tea in Japan. But as Charles said, they are very high tech and able to produce very high quality teas!

  • #6019

    Anonymous @

    But none compare to the hand-picked stuff! Oh my goodness. I pick some up from friends whenever I am back there. Those ‘tea chopping cadillacs’ are hilarious aren’t they!? They are used almost exclusively for lower-quality Shizuoka teas, but it is fun to see them in action. The type of machine in the video is the standard for drinkable teas. Here is another pic of the cadillac, though 🙂

  • #6020

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    It seems you are disagreeing here. 😀
    Are machine picked teas good or bad?

  • #6021

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    No, I don’t @sirwilliamoftheleaf is disagreeing with himself. He pointed out that Japan produces some very high quality machine picked tea, but that hand picked tea still exists, although it’s rare, and only a few kilos are produced each year.

    Actually Sir W. didn’t pass any judgment on artisan teas, which leads me to ask if anyone here has tried hand picked Japanese tea?

  • #6022

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    @jackie I wasn’t talking about you but I was talking about the posts of @sirwilliamoftheleaf and @familyandtea

  • #6023

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    I know you weren’t talking about my post ha ha, I said “sirwilliamoftheleaf”!
    But I hadn’t seen @familyandtea‘s post. I have no idea why.

    @familyandtea were you going to post another “Cadillac” pic? I’d like to know more about the differences you allude to. If I blind-tested you would you really be able to tell?

  • #7442

    mbanu
    Participant
    @mbanu

    @xavier

    Hand-picked tea is generally superior to machine-picked, but that is simply because we don’t have the technology yet. There are a remarkable number of mechanically challenging actions involved in picking tea. 🙂 I’m glad that the Japanese are investing research dollars into it, though. Eventually other tea-producing countries will be in the same high-cost-of-labor boat Japan is in.

  • #7448

    Robert Godden
    Participant
    @thedevotea

    It’s all Japanese tea.

  • #7465

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    @thedevotea No, it is just a labor problem

  • #8291

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    Machines cut to a deeper level, meaning that some of the leaves picked aren’t as young.
    They will also probably cut more stems than when hand-picking.
    However coarse leaves, stems and buds are sorted out (again by machine) so the resulting product should be still of good quality.

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