We source our sakura leaves from a JAS organic certified farm in Ehime. The cultivar "Youkou" (陽光) used for the tea was specially bred by our farmer's father and has a heartwarming story that has even been adapted into a film in Japan. The former middle school teacher was deeply affected by the impact of the Second World War on his students; although he had promised that they would be reunited under a cherry blossom tree (sakura), he was never to see many of them return from war. With unwavering determination and countless setbacks, he dedicated the next two decades to a very special project: growing a sakura that could grow and thrive in both hot and cold climates. This cultivar was developed not only to fulfil the promise to his students, but also to serve as a symbol of peace and commemoration of fallen soldiers around the world. For more than 40 years, the Foundation has planted more than 20,000 of these cherry blossom trees all over the world - from the Vatican to Madagascar, Mexico to Azerbaijan, the deep pink flowering Youkou Sakura can be found as a symbol of peace and tolerance among nations.
The tea field has been certified organic since 1998 and utilises self-produced natural fertiliser that is fermented for 3 years and made from a nutritious combination of bamboo powder and mineral-rich stone. The fertile volcanic soil is further complemented by the ashes that are carried by the wind from the nearby active volcano, Mt. Sakurajima.
The tea leaves are washed with water before harvest to cleanse away volcanic ash. The tea farmer takes special pride in the use of older, traditional rolling and drying machinery that is made of bamboo rather than plastic.