My two month stay in Kyoto gave me the last push into the world of tea and I couldn’t leave Japan without visiting (for the first time!) a tea farm. On a slow night in the guesthouse I worked I saw pictures of a visit of vice-president Matsumoto of the Obubu Tea Farm to the ICT Academy in Holland. A quick Google search learned that the Obubu Farm was just an hour of traveling away from Gion, Kyoto. This was a no-brainer: a week later I was visiting the farm in Wazuka.
Obubu knows how to market tea and definitely knows how to involve tealovers in the making of tea. Next to their Tea Club and plucking events, in which you can pick tea yourself, they offer three kinds of tours: the Group Tea Tour, the Hiking Tea Tour and the Guided Tea Tour. I took the Guided Tea Tour on a beautiful spring day. It turned out there was only one other guy taking this tour that day, Max from Germany, and we met in the bus on our way to Wakuza.
The quiet town of Wazuka is amazing to visit if you like to see nothing but tea fields. Because really, it’s mostly tea fields. Tucked in between houses, covering whole mountains… Amazing. After an introduction by Matsumoto in the office of Obubu (of course with one or two teas to taste) we went up to a mountain to visit (if I recall right) the Heavenly Tea Fields on one of the highest mountains in the village.
Not only were you given the chance to walk right through the tea bushes, you were also able to get great views over the whole tea region. After the visit to the tea fields we were taken to the factory in which the tea is processed (it was just before plucking season began, so not much activity yet) to see step by step how a plucked tea leaf turns into the finished product that you eventually steep.
The (tea soba) lunch is included in the tour and with a full stomach you will head back to the office of Obubu, where you will be given a tea tasting, including Hojicha’s, Sencha’s, Matcha’s, everything you could wish for in a Japanese tea tasting. The tasting is in a very casual environment. The tea tasters will tell you in detail of the practices of the Japanese way of drinking tea, but not in a too formal way. It’s just great fun to taste all these different teas with same-minded tealovers. Their best tea is the Kabuse Sencha, a partly shaded Sencha. Definitely worth it to take all the way home, so of course I did.
I really liked their way of presenting the Kabuse Sencha as a cold drink. They will put some leaves with ice cubes in a cocktail glass before the tea tasting starts and by the time you finish your tasting, the ice cubes turned into water that is full of the Kabuse Sencha-flavor. Loved it!
When it’s time to leave the farm you can buy some of their teas with discount. They do not push you to buy tea at all. I walked away with a Kabuse Sencha, a Sencha of the Earth and a Genmaicha (not a big fan, but hey, you’re in Japan!). Every brew of one of these teas in Amsterdam takes me back to this lovely day in Wazuka!