In modern times, machines have replaced the traditional method of hand-picking tea leaves. However, in some family-run farms and specialty farms that produce high-quality sencha, hand-picking is still preferred. There are three different methods of hand-picking tea leaves: Oritsumi, Kakitsumi, and Kokitsumi.
Oritsumi: The Gentle Method of Picking Tender Buds
Oritsumi is a hand-picking method where the tender tea buds are pulled between the thumb and forefinger and snapped. This method is gentle and causes the least amount of damage to the buds, resulting in extra-fine tea. However, this method is not very productive, as only 10 kg of leaves can be picked by one person a day.
Kakitsumi: Suitable for Semi-Matured Leaves
Kakitsumi is another hand-picking method where the fingers’ position is the same as Oritsumi. The only difference is that the leaves are pulled instead of snapped off. This method is suitable for semi-matured leaves and yields 15-20 g of leaves per day by one person.
Kokitsumi: A More Productive, Rough Hand-Picking Method
Kokitsumi is a more rough hand-picking method than the other two. Therefore, it is more productive, but the quality of the leaves may not be the best. This method involves picking the leaves by hand without using the thumb and forefinger. The leaves are pulled roughly, resulting in a greater yield but more damage to the leaves.
Hand-picking tea leaves is a traditional method that is still used in some farms to produce high-quality tea. The three different methods of hand-picking tea leaves are Oritsumi, Kakitsumi, and Kokitsumi. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and farmers can choose the most suitable method depending on the tea variety and the leaves’ maturity level.