Harvest time at Two Rivers Green Tea

2 Ready for harvestHarvest is the busiest time of year for any tea plantation and it’s no different for Two Rivers Green Tea. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on before the tea hits your cup.

Two Rivers produces Japanese style green tea from our plantation in the Acheron Valley, a couple of hours’ drive northeast of Melbourne.

The Australian picking season is, of course, on an opposite schedule to the tea-growing regions in the northern hemisphere and weather such as frost, rain and the amount of sun we’ve had will determine exactly when we pick. We harvest three times a year, usually November, January and March.

Here’s what the plantation at Two Rivers looks like when the tea is just about ready for harvest.

The tea bushes are planted about 30cm apart to allow the harvester to run its treads either side of the bushes.


The body of the harvester is set at about the height where the tealeaves grow up from their stems. There’s a blade that trims at this level, cutting the leaves from the bushes. At the same time, a fan transports the loose leaves into a container at the back of the harvester.

When the container is full, the harvester empties the tealeaves into a larger receptacle, which is loaded onto a truck.

5 Harvester at workThe harvesting equipment is the result of Japanese ingenuity and makes tea picking more efficient so we can get the newly picked leaves to the next stage quicker, resulting in fresher tea.

Each receptacle on the truck has a fan in it, blowing onto the leaves to keep them from stewing. When the truck is fully loaded, it heads straight to the processing plant where the leaves undergo the steaming, drying and rolling that gives Australian-grown tealeaves that clean Japanese taste.

And here’s what the tea bushes look like after trimming—ready to grow again for the next harvest in a few weeks’ time.

It takes about a day to harvest about two hectares of tea bushes, so that’s six days to harvest at Two Rivers, which is 12 hectares.

8 Harvester full of tealeaves9 Tealeaves ready for processing4 Harvested leaves

Shincha is new tea

The first harvest, which is what makes our shincha, occurs in late October to early November. The exact date depends on the weather and the readiness of the tea, as different cultivars grow at different rates.

Then, 50 days after the first harvest comes the second harvest, giving enough time for the tea bushes to send out new shoots and regrow its leaves in the warmer weather. The third and final harvest occurs 50 days after the second harvest, in the middle of summer, producing the tea with the most robust flavour. These harvests give us our sencha tea.

Waiting a little longer will often yield more tea, but harvesting more tea isn’t always the best course of action. Firstly, it takes longer to harvest tea that’s a little older because the leaves are bigger and the stems are thicker. Secondly, the smaller the leaves, the finer the taste tends to be, so every harvest is always a decision between producing enough tea with the right taste. If you’ve been drinking our tea, you’ll know it’s of a consistent quality, thanks to the tea masters who make these crucial decisions.

Green tea tastes best fresh, but a lot of the products you see sitting on supermarket shelves have already taken a couple of years to get there. When you drink Two Rivers Green tea, you’re getting a clean local product that’s at its freshest. Enjoy a new season cuppa—try our shincha today.



7 Trimmed tea bushes6 Tea bush after harvest


How to match cheese with green tea

Green tea is not the first beverage you might consider to accompany your cheese platter but your cuppa can really make for a surprisingly nice dairy pairing.

Wine and cheese is a staple offering at a dinner party, either as an appetiser to keep guests’ palates occupied before the main event, or at the end of an evening to bring the meal to a close—but did you know you can offer green tea as an accompaniment instead of wine?

Just like wine, green tea has the tannins and astringency to hold its own against the texture and powerful flavours of cheese. The result is a taste sensation that complements every cheese from a mild mozzarella to a creamy camembert or a salty edam. Green tea can offer online casino for us players nuttiness and roasted overtones, as well as floral and fruity notes, all of which are potential partners for cheese.

Additionally, green tea is usually served very warm to hot, so the temperature can react with the cheese in a way that wine does not, activating different parts of your tongue.

The foundation of flavour

Flavour consists of a number of elements, namely:

  • Aroma
  • Taste
  • Texture
  • Intensity
  • Length

When you pair any food with any beverage, it’s important to consider all these elements in both the food and the drink. Use the green tea to complement, contrast or enhance the flavour of the cheese. The elements should be balanced.

Be careful to avoid the flavours competing against one another, or you’ll either get a case of the tea or cheese overwhelming the other or a clash that brings out the worst in both.

Pairing at home

Green tea and cheese pairing is a fairly new concept, so there are no set rules. Cheese can be hard or soft, aged or fresh, strong or mild and the range of flavours you get from green tea—from grassy to vegetal with marine notes, or roasted with woody overtones—means that there are many potential combinations of green tea and cheese.

Much of the information and pairing recommendations you’ll find floating around come from tea or cheese experts’ experiments. Just like tea, it matters where the dairy comes from and where the cheese is made, so in many cases it’s no good to find out that a very specific green tea matches very well with a very specific cheese (especially one that you can only get from a New York cheesemonger!) because you won’t be able to re-create it at home.

Fortunately, pairing is something you can easily try at home without great expense. We recommend 3-4 different teas and up to six cheeses across a range of flavours and textures, paired in every combination. Try this method of testing:

  1. Brew one tea at a time and taste-test each cheese in turn, mild to strong.
  2. Taste in this order: tea then cheese, cheese then tea, then tea and cheese in the mouth together. (Occasionally you’ll find that one sequence tastes better than another.)
  3. Cleanse your palate between each cheese.
  4. Take notes on what you like.

Pairings are rarely 100% amazing first time around, but through this experiment you should be able to form an idea of what kind of tea works with certain kinds of cheeses. You might, for example, notice that roasted teas go well with creamy cheeses, so you could try different types of creamy cheeses next time with that one tea, to refine the pairing.

Our suggestions

Try these Two Rivers green tea and cheese pairings at home:

  • Two Rivers Shincha with chevre goats cheese
  • Two Rivers Sencha with manchego or cheddar
  • Two Rivers Houjicha with brie or camembert
  • Two Rivers Genmaicha with gouda or gruyere

What green tea and cheese pairing is your favourite?

Mythbusting: Green tea and the effect of caffeine

Tea has a stimulating effect often attributed to the caffeine it contains, but there is a lot of misinformation about how much caffeine is in tea.

There’s an old legend that makes an early link between tea and wakefulness. It features a Buddhist follower who accidentally falls asleep during meditation. In order to stay awake, he cuts off his eyelids and throws them on the ground where they became tea bushes.

Waking up to a cup of green tea in the morning is not nearly as brutal, but you can expect a stimulating effect from the caffeine tea contains. However, there are a number of things to consider before you refuse that cup before bedtime.

How much caffeine is in tea?
The caffeine in tea depends a lot on growing conditions, production and steeping. Even though all tea is from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, a green tea grown in Australia like Two Rivers will have a different caffeine profile to one grown in Japan or China, simply because of the elevation, soil and climate.

Time of harvest and production methods, such as whether the tea producer steams or pan-fries the leaves, plus withering time will also have an effect. Lastly, the quality and temperature of water in which you steep your tea, and the brewing time, will also make a difference on the amount of caffeine in the tea liquor.

This mean you’ll get wildly different caffeine measurements from study to study depending on the tea the scientists use and how they brew it. According to the Australian Beverage Council [link: http://australianbeverages.org/for-consumers/caffeine-facts/], a cup (250ml) of green tea contains anywhere from 30 to 50mg of caffeine, while a latte or cappuccino has anywhere from 113-282mg for the same volume.

But just measuring the caffeine in green tea is not enough. How it is absorbed will give you an idea of how you can use it for stimulation—or relaxation.

Tea versus coffee
Milligram for milligram, the caffeine in tea is different from the caffeine in coffee. Coffee gives you a jolt. Within 20 minutes, the caffeine will begin to remove some of the ‘traffic lights’ in your system, making you more alert. The downside is that once you reach peak stimulation, it drops off pretty quickly, so you crash.

Green tea, however,

has a much gentler ascent due the antioxidants in tea, which slows the absorption of caffeine. You may not reach peak alertness as quickly as you do with coffee but tea will keep you on a plateau of stimulation for longer.

Another thing to note is the way caffeine works with L-theanine, an amino acid in tea, which reduces stress. That’s right, you get the alertness from the caffeine while remaining relaxed. This means no caffeine crash.

Green tea before bedtime
Will green tea keep you awake all night if you have a cuppa before bedtime? Everyone processes caffeine differently so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, a cup before hitting the pillow is probably not a recipe for a good night’s sleep.

But if you know where green tea takes you stimulation-wise—with the L-theanine strong enough to help you de-stress but the caffeine mild enough to allow you to sleep—then a cuppa before bedtime might be a good way to relax.

3 ways tea can boost hydration

Does tea make you thirsty? Or is it a good way to stay hydrated? Two Rivers finds out the truth.

It wasn’t so long ago that any article about hydration would recommend you cut down on tea and coffee. The accepted wisdom was that the caffeine in these beverages had a diuretic effect (cause you to urinate more) and were therefore dehydrating.

Not only is that not true for most tea drinkers, the issue of hydration is quite a complex one that relies heavily on the individual, including your body shape as well as the health of your renal system.

The initial study that linked caffeine to the diuretic effect was conducted under a couple of conditions that you wouldn’t consider normal consumption. Firstly, the scientists gave the test subjects a beverage of water and pure caffeine instead of tea or coffee like you or I would drink, which means the other nutrients in tea that would offset any effect were not present.

Secondly, the test subjects abstained from tea and coffee for several days prior to the test. Subsequent tests on regular tea drinkers show caffeine has a diminished effect when the drinker has built a tolerance. Regularly drinking tea makes you less susceptible to the diuretic effect, if it ever did affect you that way.

It turns out caffeine is a mild diuretic in some people—but it’s coffee that’s the culprit. For regular tea drinkers, tea has a hydrating effect equivalent to water according to a study that compared people who drank nothing but tea for the 12-hour trial with those who drank an equivalent amount of boiled water. There was no difference in hydration levels between them.


Tea’s advantage over water
Tea does have a few advantages over water as a source of hydration, however.

1. It tastes good
If it tastes good, we drink it. Some people don’t like water because of the taste; tea can help make water palatable. If people find tea easier to drink than water, they will drink more of it and stay hydrated.

2. It has additional nutrients
In addition to providing you with water for hydration, tea has a whole lot of other nutrients such as antioxidants and polyphenols that boost immunity and help you maintain physical and mental health.

3. It increases your intake of warm water
We don’t often drink warm water, but we will often drink hot tea. Warm water has a stimulating effect on your body, reducing congestion and aiding digestion, but many people find it hard to drink water at a higher temperature—but what about hot tea?

When it’s cold, such as in the early morning, at night and during the cooler months, we don’t get thirsty as often as when it’s hot, so the triggers for rehydrating aren’t as frequent. Because it’s easy to drink tea even when you’re not thirsty, for warmth and time out, this can help you stay hydrated.

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