Wazuka Japan: Obubu Tea Tour and Countryside Charm
Fresh mountain air. Overabundance of green, green everywhere. Oh, and tea from the Obubu tea tour…
I headed to Wazuku for the Obubu Tea Tour on a daytrip from Kyoto. It’s an in-depth, 5 hour tour of their tea fields and includes lunch and lots and lots of tea. I thought I knew a fair amount about tea, but I never realized how China-centric my education had been. I learned so much on this tour and came away a convert to Japanese green tea.
First you’ll start with a little introduction to the tea farm and its history. Most of the tea farms in the area have very elderly farmers, whereas Obubu is much newer. They offer an internship program where you can work at the farm for 90 days, which is really interesting looking. Next you’ll head to the tea fields – the best part of this tour! It was absolutely beautiful, if very cold and windy. I’ll admit though, when they told me they replace the tea bushes every 50 years I had to conceal a flinch. It’s interesting to see what is valued in different countries. Old growth tea fetches so much money in China’s Yunnan province and had a similar process of replacing trees until they released older trees could be preferred.
Factories and Food
Next you’ll come down the mountain to see the tea processing facilities. This is so cool! Seeing how the machines are specifically designed to roll leaves, dry them, etc., was entertaining and informative. My family owns a farm in the US, and comparing the processes is interesting. Additionally, I liked the commitment to history, with one of the old grinders still having its place in the factory (one of only 4 they’ve found in Japan). As you return to the main building you’ll get to enjoy some delicious soba noodles infused with, of course, tea. I figured I would be absolutely buzzed as I rarely have more than four cups of tea a day, but the theanine (chemical in tea which causes caffeine to release more slowly) came through to keep me calm!
The Actual Tea
At last, you will come to the tea tasting. After the visit to the tea fields, this was the best part. We drank tons of tea. I learned the differences between the tea types, like Sencha (regular loose leaf green tea) vs. Gyokuro (tea that has been shaded) vs. Houjicha (briefly roasted tea) and more. We even got to sample a Japanese black tea that was absolutely delicious and I wound up purchasing. The lecture is informative and they’re open for in-depth questions. It was here I realized how little I knew about Japanese tea and I look forward to studying more.
One of the biggest takeaways from this tour, however, was a glimpse into the countryside of Japan. Within a few hours I fell in love with the small towns glimpsed through train windows. I wish I had taken 10 minutes to check out a nearby shine, and I wish I could have spent more time in the tea fields despite the cold. Japan as a whole smells remarkably good and clean, but that fresh mountain air is hard to beat. I already know that my future return trip to Japan will involve a lot more time in the countryside.
I hope this has encouraged you to take the Obubu Tea Tour or explore the countryside of Japan!
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