March 8th is the International Women's Day, and at IKKYU, we wish to mark this day with 10% off our entire store with coupon : iwday22
We celebrate the accomplishments of women around the world, big or small, at the local or global level, and their ongoing struggle for dignity, respect and equal rights.
It's the perfect day to talk about women in the tea world in Japan. On the one hand, like in so many sectors in Japan, the tea industry is still very much a 'male world'. But like always in the agricultural world, without women at the helm or behind the scenes, nothing could be done.
Tea farming is still done mostly by small family business, where everyone is involved in the entire process. So the quality and amazing taste of your favorite brew has everything to do with the hard work of everyone involved - from plucking to bagging the leaves.
Among our tea partners, we are delighted to count four tea factories led by women, or where women are decision makers: Koga cha gyo in Yame, Unoike seicha in Yame, the Ureshino Association of Kamairicha in Saga, and Takahashi cha en in Oita.
But everywhere else, ladies are on the front lines during harvest season, trimming and plucking the trees. The wives, mothers, sisters, daughters run the family tea shops while their fathers, sons and brothers are at the field, but the ratio of female workforce at the processing factories is also increasing.
We can't forget the skills and know-how of the old ladies of Yame who carefully choose and hand-pick gyokuro leaves one by one under the shade of straw mats. In Chiran region, every year, the farmers compete with their tea cutting machines and women showcase their driving and leaf-picking skills.
Finally, more and more women have joined the ranks of certified tea instructors and tea ceremony specialists. At IKKYU, we are so proud to work with Yuka san who share her knowledge and insights with all of us (stay tuned for our next video, dedicated to Yame white tea!).