Japanese company REDD Co., Ltd., based in Tokyo's Nerima Ward, is now selling "翠茎茶 Suikeicha - Roasted Asparagus Tea," a hōjicha tea made from the normally-discarded lower stems of high-quality asparagus, through online stores and in select brick-and-mortar shops.

REDD is in charge of planning and sales, the asparagus is produced by Shiraishi Farm 白石農園 in Nerima Ward, and processing is handled by the Katakuri Welfare Workshop かたくり福祉作業所 and Social Welfare Corporation Akane no Kai 社会福祉法人あかねの会.

By leveraging an alliance between agriculture and welfare, REDD is able to produce so-called sixth-order industry* products within Nerima Ward.

*"Sixth-order" is a Japanese term for efforts to revitalize agriculture by creating synergies between the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors.

A fragrant tea with a sweet and umami-rich taste

Asparagus stems are carefully dried and roasted to maximize their natural flavor. The tea doesn't have a grassy smell, and rather has a mild flavor with an appealing aroma. It's caffeine-free, so even children and pregnant women can enjoy it. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as served hot or iced, blended into alcoholic beverages, or as a base for cooking.

Features of Suikeicha - Roasted Asparagus Tea

  • It's completely caffeine free
  • With its distinctive flavor, it can be used as a soup stock or an ingredient in cooking
  • Each serving can be brewed 3 to 5 times
  • It can also be used in a blended tea with mint, sanshō Japanese pepper (Zanthoxylum piperitum), and honey

English text added by grape Japan

Product Information

  • Product name: 翠茎茶 Suikeicha - Roasted Asparagus Tea
  • Suggested retail price (10 g): 648 JPY (tax included)
  • Suggested retail price (40 g): 2,484 JPY (tax included)
  • Ingredients: Asparagus stems
  • Place of manufacture: Ōizumi-chō, Nerima Ward, Tokyo
  • Availability: See official website for online stores

Normally discarded asparagus stems

The lower stems of asparagus are usually discarded in the shipping process. However, the stems of high-quality asparagus from Shiraishi Farm are delicious, sweet, and full of nutrients. "Suikeicha" is made by collecting fresh asparagus stem trimmings, cleaning them, drying them carefully while checking for any irregularities, and roasting them at low temperatures. The process of slow-roasting brings out the sweetness and umami of the asparagus stems, transforming them into a fragrant asparagus hōjicha tea.

A new economic cycle model

Collaborations between agriculture and welfare organizations have been attracting attention in the Japanese agricultural industry in recent years as a way of enabling users of welfare facilities to engage in agricultural work, giving them new employment opportunities, a sense of purpose, and providing additional labor power to farms.

Through a successful crowdfunding campaign, Shiraishi Farm, which produces asparagus in Nerima Ward, introduced a processing machine and a refrigerator to the nearby Katakuri Welfare Workplace. However, following the usual process, the trimmings were turned into food waste at a rate of 20 to 30 kg a week. REDD proposed "vegetable tea" as a solution.

REDD also provided training in the processing step at Social Welfare Corporation Akane no Kai, also in Nerima Ward, which made it possible to produce a high-quality roasted asparagus tea.

This is a new circular economy model that generates value while reducing waste and promoting cooperation between agriculture and welfare.

800 kg of food waste reduced per year

By turning normally discarded parts into tea, REDD aims to reduce about 800 kg of food waste per year, all the while creating a delicious tea. This is therefore a sustainable model.

You can purchase "Suikeicha" at two online stores. You'll find the links at the official "Suikeichan" website here.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.