Did you know your regular consumption of Sugimoto’s green tea has been helping preserve plant biodiversity in Japan? The farmland around Sugimoto Seicha, our Japanese headquarters, has recently been recognized as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). As defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, GIAHS are “remarkable land use systems and landscapes which are rich in globally significant biological diversity evolving from the co-adaption of community with its environment and its needs and aspirations for sustainable development.”
More specifically, the UN recognized the use of Chagusaba, or “tea-grass fields,” as “an exemplary system of traditional agricultural techniques” which helps preserve biodiversity and has provided a safe haven for many species of plants. The tea-grass fields, harbored from livestock grazing and prescribed burning, are mowed periodically, and the clippings are used to naturally fertilize the tea fields. The decomposition of these grasses replenishes nutrients in the soil, and gives tea grown in this region a bolder, more savory flavor. These tea-grass fields are found in the cities and towns in/around our tea farms and headquarters in Shizuoka Prefecture, in the rolling hills southwest of Mount Fuji.
The tea-grasses do more than help make great tea; they also sustain a grassland habitat that dates back to the last ice age. Once abundant throughout the country, the Seven Grasses of Autumn can only be found growing together in a handful of regions in modern Japan. This region of Shizuoka acts as a safe-haven for these grasses, as well as over 300 species of plants, including endangered varieties and endemic species. As stated in the report by the FAO, the Shizuoka method of tea cultivation “is an excellent example of harnessing traditional agricultural wisdom to complement agricultural modernization.”
For more information, please visit the GIAHS site here.