maker spotlight: the Kinezuka Family

On our 2018 trip to Japan, we were fortunate to be connected to the incredibly kind and knowledgeable Kinezuka family from Fujieda City. We are excited and proud to share their teas with you!

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Toshiaki Kinezuka has been producing organic tea since 1976. He began his practice of organic agriculture during a time when it was extremely frowned upon to change any standards in Japanese agriculture. Non-organic tea sales were booming, there was no financial motive for him to switch to organic, just his pure passion for his environment and home. Many in the industry in Japan did not applaud his efforts at the time; instead, they criticized him for making waves in the status quo and following his gut. But, that didn’t stop Toshiaki. He began developing not only his fields in this way but also those of 30 other farmers in the Takisawa District. Together, they are able to expand the tea industry and encourage each other to create the highest quality products, while collectively caring for their land and air. The family and partnering farms are proud of the pristine nature of their home environment, where native plants, animals, and people all live in harmony and the agricultural cultivation they do.

They do not use pesticides in any of their agriculture and produce only organic teas. Toshiaki has said, “A good farmer knows that to produce good crops, one must first develop good soil. Thus, the taste of good organic tea is made half of tea leaves and half of the hearts of their farmers.” The Kinezuka family and their partners see their style of farming as a return to traditional agriculture. They utilize good soil, avoid pesticides and chemicals, and place a high level of importance on the ecological balance of nature, as well as their co-existence with nature.

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In addition to their incredible passion for tea, organic and sustainable agriculture, they are a tight-knit, hard-working family. They are a family of five: father Toshiaki, mother Kazue, and three children Ayumi, Tamiko, and Kazuki. From plucking to crude tea production to refining, all of the steps happen on their property, by one of the family members or a few trained helpers. It is sincerely humbling to see the scale and quality they are able to produce, sticking true to their family values and we are so proud to help them continue to thrive.

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