When he decided to switch to organic farming in 1976, Toshiaki Kinezuka was met with skepticism and hostility by his fellow tea farmers. The newly available pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers were providing large yields, and their value in the tea market was high. The common belief at the time was that these synthetic substances made for a higher quality final product than tea produced without them. Still, they worried that the idea of tea grown without chemicals would set a new standard that would appeal to many customers and draw away business.
Never-the-less, Kinezuka felt the need to farm organic tea was too great to ignore. He had witnessed the drastic decline in ﬁsh populations of nearby rivers, as well as populations of insects such as ﬁreﬂies, which had once been abundant, since the advent of widespread chemical use in farming. He knew that any method of farming that relied on killing other life was neither desirable nor sustainable. Besides, his family had grown tea for over ten generations, and their traditional methods of farming had long served them well.
It took three years of hard work before finally getting a harvest that met his standards for quality, but thanks to a dedicated group of consumers and collaborators, he was able to persevere through the ﬁrst few years and fulﬁll his dream of creating an entirely organic tea company. In the time since, he has continued to study how to maintain the highest standards of environmental stewardship while producing great tea. He has drawn other local farmers into the organic tea cooperative, and actively pursued the spread of sustainable tea production in Shizuoka, Japan, and the entire world. This practice now continues with his children and grandchildren.