吉田銘茶園 Yoshida Meichaen
The leader of Yoshida Meichaen is 16th generation farmer Riichi Yoshida (吉田利一) who has been working alongside his younger brother for over 65 years. They are helped out by their sons who will become the 17th generation owners of the farm. Riichi-san is also the Chairman of the Uji Tea Hand-rolling Preservation Association, preserving the hand-rolling method of his grandfather which was certified as an intangible cultural property.
Founded over 200 years ago, the small 2 hectare tea fields of Yoshida Meichaen are nestled in the Ogura district of Uji. When they started growing here, their fields were surrounded by many other farms, but in the past 30 years, these tea fields were replaced by houses and buildings as the city of Uji grew.
Though the scenery may have changed, the Yoshida family still produces tea using traditional methods, such as hand-rolling, hand-picking, honzu straw shading, and sorting tea using traditional bamboo screens rather than modern metal sieves. They have competed in the National Tea Competition every year since it started over 75 years ago, and have won 1st place in the over 20 times.
Since the 14th generation, the Yoshida family has also been entrusted with the management of one of the oldest tea gardens in Kyoto, and perhaps in Japan, at Kosanji Temple in Toganoo, where the bushes were sown with seeds brought from Song Dynasty China by Eisai.
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