According to Mr. Ito, each wheel possesses its own character and each stone has a unique temperament and must be carved accordingly. He likens each of the stone mills to his children with regards to their individuality.
The long and stellar reputation of AOI Tea Company rests largely on Ito’s shoulders. Granite grinding wheels, long considered the best way to prepare matcha, have been in use since the seventeenth century; the grind determines both the taste and the color of the resulting Matcha. Additionally, the matcha must be ground to a mere micron (μm) size— so fine it can even penetrate into fingerprints. Grinding Matcha tea to perfection demands the skillful artisanship of a stone carver like Ito.
With less than 50 stone carvers left in Japan, Ito realizes the importance of preserving his art for the next generation. When he decided to become a Matcha Grinding Wheel carver, all he had to go on was part of an old sketch that was already generations old. But after years of training and making matcha stone grinders he is prepared to pass on his skills to the next generation, with hopes that they will finally create the perfect wheel - that is if Mr. Ito doesn’t do it first!