One thing that most people associate with Japan is green tea and over the past two days we seem to have managed to experience a whole range of things associated with green tea. This is the season where the first cut is taken from the green tea plants (apparently the most delicious....) and while we were going for a walk yesterday we stumbled on a neighbour who had just picked their leaves and were about to take them to the factory to have them processed (after taking all the extra sticks and bad leaves out by hand....).
On our way home from picking up my daughter we then stumbled across the processing factory and were able to see all the different stages. It seems that the leaves are first steamed, activating the enzymes, then dried and taken through a series of drying and rolling stages. The different kinds of machines were amazing to watch - each with its own purpose and special actions.
After watching it all yesterday we then got to taste it today at my favorite tea shop in Kitsuki. This shop is nothing spectacular from the outside, but it has a history of over 260 years and still has the original scales and huge tea urns, along with some of the first glass ever made in Japan. The current owner is the 9th generation of her family to be running the shop and is a wonderful lady. Dad even managed to drink the tea without washing his hands in it first.... (sorry - a family joke, eh Nanna!).
If you can handle the American accent there is a reasonable video about making of green tea at the following link: Green tea making - Discovery channel