It’s no secret that tea is wildly popular in Japan. At Yunomi, we pride ourselves on sharing that culture and lifestyle with everyone. From affordable, quality tea to unusual facts about Japan, we’ve got you covered. Today’s topic is extra special and perfectly suited to Yunomi fans. We’re talking tea harvesting events open to the public, letting people see for themselves how tea changes from plant to drink.
Note: Yunomi provides this info as a lead for finding a tea picking tour. You should ask someone (hotel concierge for example) to call and confirm dates, and whether English or other language is available (an actual guide or pamphlets, etc.) this year. As schedules become more fixed this year, we will update this post with dates.
- Dates (from 2016): April 29, July 8, September 23
- Fee: 6000 yen (3000 for members)
- Website: obubutea.com (Please contact to confirm dates. English speaking staff available. Obubu is our mentor in the tea business, and they also offer custom tea tours.)
First up is Kyoto, the birthplace of Japanese tea. The Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms organize an annual tea harvesting and rolling event to spread green tea culture. Attendees will handpick lush tea leaves in Wazuka, Kyoto, and then learn to roll them using an ancient technique. After that, tea farmers will demonstrate how leaves are turned into a delicious beverage. You’ll even be able to take some of the tea home!
As an additional treat, participants get to enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch box of food made with green tea. The star of the show will be green tea tempura, made from your handpicked tea leaves. At an extra cost, traditional tea farming clothes can be worn to experience tea picking in the old days. Obubu also offers three other tea picking packages so you can choose the one best suited to your needs.
- Date: April - October
- Fee: 820 yen
- Website: Greenpia (Japanese only)
Shizuoka produces around 40% of the tea in Japan, so what could be a more fitting place for a tea picking experience? Greenpia is located in Makinohara, a small town less well known amongst tourists but full of hidden treasures. To start off, an experienced guide explains the picking process so participants know what to look for in order to pick high quality leaves. Also provided are traditional attire (rental fee required), baskets, gloves, and bandanas.
You are given roughly half an hour to pick as many leaves as you can. Once the picking is finished, participants can choose to attend a factory tour to see how those leaves are prepared and turned into bottled or loose tea. Be sure to stick around and visit the restaurant and gift shop for some unique offerings, from green tea soba to green tea cola.
- Date: April - October
- Fee: 500 yen
- Website: Visit Shizuoka (English website)
The Ochakaikan in Nihondaira, Shizuoka is much more than a tea store. It also provides field tours so participants can experience tea harvesting and learn about the lifestyle of tea farmers. There are eight varieties of tea available, so visitors have a wide selection to choose from. Also available are tea-rolling demonstrations and tea tempura services, provided you meet the minimum participant count. As a bonus, the area is famous for its views of Mount Fuji, the Izu Peninsula, and more. If you want to pick tea against the majestic backdrop of Mount Fuji, then Nihondaira is your destination.
- Date: End of April
- Website: Sayama City (Japanese only)
Located in southern Saitama, the tea plantations of Sayama are known for producing some of the best tea. Though the bulk of Japanese tea is produced in the south and west, this area near Tokyo has made a name for itself. Their specialty is, appropriately, Sayama tea. Due to the cooler climate, the plants have adapted by producing thicker leaves. This creates a richer, sweeter flavor, packed full of antioxidants.
In late April, the area hosts the popular Sayama Tea and Flower Festival. The festival gives people a chance to experience traditional tea harvesting and tea rolling. Sayama shincha, or the first month’s harvest, is exquisite, and there will be plenty to try at the event. Visitors can also enjoy the many food stalls showcasing local and traditional products. Other events include lotteries, flower exhibitions, and musical performances.
Those who want to go a step further can explore the nearby city of Tokorozawa. There are plenty of tea shops and farms, all staffed with professionals capable of answering any tea question and providing the perfect cup. More adventurous folk should visit in April, since that’s when harvest season begins. Most farms are happy to welcome extra helpers, and you can enjoy a once in a lifetime hands-on experience.
- Dates: May 9, 16, and 17
- Fee: Free
- Website: Echizen City website
This is an old province with a great deal of history and tradition within its walls. Of course, that includes a profound love for tea. The Ajimano region in particular prides itself on its traditional tea culture; specifically, Ajimano tea. During the annual tea festival, Echizen allows visitors to participate in making their special tea. From tea picking, drying, to brewing, this is sure to be an unforgettable experience. There is even a special tea song that is sung during the brewing process.
Date: May – June
Website: Aichi Prefectural Government (Japanese Only)
Our last location is Nishio, the country’s matcha powerhouse. The area’s climate and fertile lands are well suited to growing green tea, and lovely tea fields cover the rolling hills. Nishio tea is said to be one of the smoothest with a rich, deep green color accompanied by a wonderful scent.
As a city so heavily immersed in tea, there are many events to attend. The teahouse, Jo-an, is a proud national treasure, and hundreds are drawn to its unique architecture and beautiful gardens. Tea ceremonies are popular, especially outdoor ones where people can enjoy the beautiful scenery. The city even held the record for the largest tea ceremony.
Nishio is very proud of its tea industry, and they are more than happy to share their knowledge with curious tea lovers. The city offers factory and industry tours so participants can learn about tea processing. Also available are tea picking tours during harvest season, from May until June. Participants will also learn how to create the powdered green tea famous in Nishio.
If you’re looking for something different on your trip to Japan, then try one of these events on this list. Tea harvesting is exciting, and not only will you get the chance to make new friends, you’ll also get some delicious tea! It will surely be a tour you’ll always remember.
Contributing writer: Elissa Wu. Edited by Ian Chun.