As a female-founded company, we love opportunities to support and recognize other women. With March being Women’s History Month, we thought it’d be interesting to learn more about a woman’s history. So, in honor of International Women’s Day today, we spoke with Hiroko-san, a Board of Director (and the Wife) behind our family-run, partner tea farm in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, for a look into her story. Read our full Q&A below.
Please note, the following responses have been translated from Japanese.
How would you explain the mission of the company?
We aim for "sustainable agricultural management that guarantees safety from tea farm to dinner table.”
What are your biggest achievements?
I have not achieved yet. If I had to say something, I would say that I have been able to accept my life change in my occupation and environment since I got married. (I moved from Kanagawa Prefecture (city) to Shizuoka (countryside) when I got married, and I am grateful for the support of many people who have helped me raise my children and continue to work.)
How long have you been working in the tea industry?
It's been 34 years. I've been working in this industry since I got married.
What are your favorite parts about working in the tea industry? What are the hardest parts about working in the industry?
When customers see the view of the tea farm, smell the leaves and soil, or drink the tea, they say, "I feel relieved" or "It tastes good.” It makes me very happy. I am very happy when I hear such comments. It is my pleasure to be able to help people who are working hard every day to heal by drinking tea.
The hard part is that producing requires patience and continuity. From the farms, to harvesting, and manufacturing until it becomes a product, all requires a lot of attention to detail and is very nerve-wracking.
What is your favorite type of tea?
I like Sencha and Matcha. I often choose teas depending on dishes and sweets.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I'm proud to have a high level of food safety awareness and practice from the perspective of a nutritionist and PCQI Process Manager.
What does your daily ritual consist of? How do you incorporate health into your daily life?
I stretch before bedtime and drink plain hot water when I wake up in the morning.
I am a certified nutritionist, so I have been very careful about what I eat since I was young. I try to eat seasonal vegetables and what I think my body needs.
I also go mountain climbing once a month or so with a friend from my neighborhood in the nearby mountains.
What is your favorite kind of Japanese food?
I would say miso soup with lots of ingredients. I also love sushi and tempura though.
Has being a woman shaped your relationship to tea?
My daily habit (as a mother and grandmother) is to brew and drink tea, and this habit has been passed on to my children and grandchildren. I drink sencha in the morning, sencha or matcha at work during the day, and houjicha at night.
When tea is brewed, people gather at the place, and it naturally creates space for communication and conversation. It creates a soft atmosphere.
If you could share one thing about tea culture, what would it be?
I would share a phrase that means that the moment is only now. It's "一期一会 (ichi-go ichi-e).”
When you have tea, you will never have the same situation: such as the tea, water, utensils, time, members of the group, and the place where we drink tea together. We should cherish the moment and the occasion.
Thank you to Hiroko-san for sharing a glimpse into her life and culture this International Women’s Day. We’re deeply grateful for her time speaking with us and for the ongoing partnership between Matchaful and her family’s tea farm.