It was a few days before my 33rd birthday and I had decided that as a birthday present to myself I wanted to take a day that week to explore some of the tea fields and farms around Kyoto.
I googled “tea farms Kyoto”… up popped several links for Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms. It appeared that they offered a tea tasting and farm tour.
I noted that they had good reviews on Google reviews and also on TripAdvisor, so I clicked on their website (www.obubutea.com).
After spending about a few minutes exploring their website and reading about the tea tour and tasting, I decided that this was exactly what I was looking to do!
I booked a spot for a few days later on Friday.
One of my primary reasons to visit Japan was in order to explore the tea scene and rich tea culture that existed here. Accordingly, I was stoked for Friday!
When Friday finally rolled around I took the train from Kyoto Station, transferred once, and arrived at the Kamo station. From there I hopped in a taxi to take me the rest of the way.
It was a short, albeit scenic drive. The road curved around the mountains… eventually I came into the town of Wazuka, where Obubu is located.
I arrived at Obubu and was greeted at the door by smiling faces of several members of the staff. I was invited in and led to a room off to the left where the tea tasting and explanations were to take place. I sat down among the guests and enjoyed my first cup. As I look back the next bit of time is a blur… I guess I was in my happy place and living in the moment. 🙂
The next thing I recall: it was time to go out into the fields. We all went outside and piled into two separate vans that we would take up into the hills of the tea fields.
I was sitting in the front van with Matsu-san, one of the founders of Obubu. I had all sorts of questions that I wanted to ask. I was like a giddy schoolboy raising his hand to the teacher.
“Why are there fans in the field?”
“What kind of tea will these leaves be processed into?”
“Where do you process the tea leave?”
“How many people live here?”
My mind was running a mile a minute…
He graciously answered all of my questions.
Up into the hills we drove… passed a bamboo forest on the left… about five minutes later we stopped and all got out. We walked to the top of the nearest hill. From here we could look out over the many fields of tea in the distance. The view was breathtaking. My mouth was slightly agape, for I was taken aback at the beauty that lay below. There were tea fields as far as the eye could see… it was a sea of green.
Matsu-san and also Hiro-san (one of the other Obubu experts) talked to us briefly about the tea plants in front of us. They explained how these plants’ leaves would be turned into sencha.
They told us that when they are picking the tea they will pick two leaves and a needle.
They let us pick our own. 🙂
Here is a picture of the first tea that I ever picked!
The smile on my face had to have been pretty goofy at this point. I could not stop smiling. This is exactly what I had hope for… to find myself in nature, amongst the tea plants, learning about how tea was actually produced.
I had one of the other guests in the group take about 100 photos of me in, around, amongst the tea bushes.
After the “photoshoot” was over, we drove back down towards the town stopping at one more spot along the way. Matsu-san talked a little about Wazuka.
After another short drive, we stopped outside the Wazuka factory. It was here that the Obubu team brought the tea leaves once they were picked in order to dry and process further. We were able to see the machines that were used to sort, dry, and roll the tea.
After the tour we walked to a nearby cafe for lunch. The group sat around together with the and we talked about our love for tea.
After lunch we walked back to the Obubu building to sample a few more several teas, including my favorite of the afternoon, the Kabuse sencha.
One of the staff members spent some time speaking to us about the tea plant itself and the different chemical properties that existed and how steeping time and temperature influenced each.
At one point we even got to try a tea leaf salad where they added some toasted rice and some soy sauce to the left over sencha leaves.
It was delicious! I decided I would start eating my tea leaves (assuming I knew the quality and whether pesticides were used).
The tasting ended and of course I made sure to buy some of the Kabuse Sencha to enjoy while I continued my travels through Japan and beyond.
We then said our goodbyes our visit was over.
The day was a complete success!
Wazuka is such a beautiful and serene place. I will forever cherish my visit there and to Obubu Tea Farms!