(pictures are from World Tea Tours Website)
Each year I try to go somewhere in the world to experience tea and this year I’m fortunate to join World Tea Tours (worldteatours.com) on their Japan Tea Tour. I have lusted after this trip for a year now and really didn’t think I’d be able to go because of the cost (Japan is expensive) and the challenge of having the Studio managed while I’m gone. Dan Robertson, owner of World Tea Tours does an amazing tour—both my China trips have been with Dan. I knew this trip would be worth figuring out all the details.
It is so important for me to visit the countries I buy tea from and teach about. Japan is highly mechanized and the tea farmer is typically not the end-producer/marketer of the finished product. This differs from China in that the grower is typically the same person who processes and sells the finished product. It also differs from Sri Lanka where the tea estate manager is an employee of a multi-national corporation and manages all stages of production from cultivation to processing and finishing, then gets the product to market via tea auction.
Japanese tea is either sun grown or shade grown and 85% of production is the former. Shade growing is used for the tea plants grown for matcha and gyokuro—the technique results in very unique flavor characteristics coveted by people who love these teas.
The tea tours I’ve been lucky enough to participate in have a huge emphasis on cultural immersion and this tour is no exception. Besides visiting many tea production facilities and tea gardens, we will be visiting Mt. Fuji, the Nanzenji Buddhist Temple, the Karatsu Castle, and we’ll spend time being fitted with an authentic Japanese Kimono. We start in Tokyo and go to Shizuoka, Kyoto, Uji, Oita, and Yame.
There is much more to this tour, so indulge yourself in visiting Dan Robertson’s website to look at the whole itinerary. I’ll have lots of pictures and experiences to share upon my return. The tour is May 13 through 27 and I will have the Studio open during these two weeks, although with modified hours. Watch the website for updates on May hours.