Most people tend to think of China when it concerns green tea; however, one part of the world that can give the Asian superpower a run for its money in this ‘field’ is Shizuoka in Japan. In celebration of International Tea Day, which is on May 21st, Japan’s biggest producer of green tea created some unique tea-related experiences to take visitors and locals behind the taste.
Green tea is an essential component of a healthy diet and is hugely popular throughout the world. One of the best places in the world to experience the finest quality is Shizuoka. In celebration of International Tea Day, the Japanese prefecture has lined up some incredible experiences which will enable visitors to truly understand the story of this amazing drink.
The Green Tea Experiences
The 2023 experiences include a newly launched tour to learn about Gyokuro green tea (Japan’s finest), matcha calligraphy, remote farm stays, a museum dedicated to tea and, of course, some picturesque spots to enjoy a cup of tea; it is somewhen that isn’t short of options when it comes to tea!
New tour to sample Japan’s finest green tea
Gyokuro green tea is known as the highest quality green tea and is mainly produced in three regions in Japan: Uji (Kyoto), Yame (Fukuoka) and Asahina, a very quiet mountain village in Shizuoka. ‘Gyokuro Green Tea Study‘ is a newly launched tour perfect for tea lovers looking for an exclusive green tea experience.
During this two hours experience, participants will get to learn all about this fine type of green tea with a tea master, starting with a visit to his private tea farm followed by a lesson on how it is grown, how to brew it correctly and with lots of opportunities to taste it too. The experience starts from JPY 31,000 (approx. £187) for two people with English interpretation included. Lunch can be arranged at an additional cost.
Green tea degustation and calligraphy
Travellers looking for an authentic tea experience and to challenge their inner calligrapher should book the ‘Tea pairing and matcha calligraphy®‘ package, a unique three-hour experience designed for groups of four or more.
It starts with the tea pairing session where tea master Mr Yasuhisa Iwazaki (who gives tea workshops in Japan and overseas) prepares a selection of hot and cold green tea brews paired with a multi-course Japanese meal made with seasonal ingredients.
The Matcha calligraphy session is next taught by its creator calligrapher Ms Shoran, who teaches participants how to write their name in Japanese Kanji characters using a powdered green tea solution instead of ink. While painting, the green tea ‘ink’ is of a vivid green colour and turns brown as time passes. The experience starts from JPY 27,500 (approx. £165) per person.
A remote green tea farm stay
Nestled in the mountains and blessed by the rich nature surrounding the Oi River (one of the country’s major rivers cutting through Japan’s Southern Alps), travellers will find the famed tea town of Kawane.
The topography and weather of the area provide optimal conditions for tea farming, making the tea produced here one of the finest nationwide and the farm stays extra special.
Located approximately one hour and a half by local train northwest of Shizuoka City, Kawane is reached by a tranquil train journey winding along and across the Oi River and through a sea of green tea fields. The friendly local hosts pick up participants at the train station to drive further inland to the remote tea farms.
This rural experience includes tea-related, farming and cooking experiences, with participants helping to harvest the locally grown vegetables and cook the evening meal. Including the overnight stay and two meals (dinner and breakfast), the price starts from JPY 10,000 (approx. £60) per person.
Green tea tasting in the sky
In the hills of Setonoya, a tea-producing region dating back centuries, Tea Terrace Ichinose offers guests an unforgettable tea-tasting experience ‘suspended’ above the fields and surrounded by the rural beauty of the family-run plantation. Here visitors can enjoy a tea experience with stunning views of mountains and tea farms from 3,000 JPY (approx. £28) per person, including two types of green tea and sweets.
A Fix of tea history
The Tea Museum Shizuoka is the perfect place for travellers to learn about the prefecture’s green tea history, culture and industry. The museum is located in Shimada City and is a short 20-minute walk or five minutes by bus from Kanaya Train Station, which is served by the Tokaido Line and a convenient stop for tea lovers discovering the country by rail.
Their permanent exhibition takes visitors through the history and origin of tea worldwide and dedicated displays delving into tea in Japan and Shizuoka in greater detail. The museum holds special exhibitions almost throughout the year, with ‘Tea and Mt. Fuji: Co-starring in Japan’ currently taking place until July 3rd.
For visitors looking for something more hands-on, there is an array of experiences available at an additional cost, such as tea picking (available late April to early May, late June, mid-August and late September), tea ceremonies, matcha grinding experiences and much more.
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Credits: Images courtesy of the SURUGA Marketing & Tourism Bureau.
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