Tea and Japan have been inextricablylinked for over 1300 years. Beginning as a component in Buddhist rituals and then eagerly adopted by the elite classes, today tea is an essential part of daily life. On this extraordinary adventure, experience for yourself the colorful and storied history of tea. With expert guidance from top Japanese tea authorities, visit lavish palaces and ornate temples, ancient historic sites and modern cities, serene tea gardens and bustling tea factories and tastes dozens of exquisite teas at the peak of the season.
A few of the special highlights include: Tokyo's Imperial Palace plaza; intensive training in the Japanese tea ceremony; the inspiring Happoen gardens; tea plantations and tea factories in Ureshino and Shizuoka where you can pick your own tea; indulge in special tea meals and attend focused lectures on tea history, culture and production. Witness the tea auction. Socialize with some of the influential people in the tea industry at exclusive meetings. Visit the World Tea Museum. Study the unique process of making Gyokuro tea from start to finish. Study the nearly lost art of Temomi - hand making tea. Visit the ancient tea tree. And of course, explore the stores on Tokyo's main shopping street - the Ginza.
The southern island of Kyushu is one of the country's main tea production areas. The island is also well known for it's volcanic activity which gives special character to the teas. The environment is different than in the northern production areas and we'll get to know the differences when we tour tea gardens and factories. Interact and learn directly from tea farmers in Yame and Saga as well as explore the culture of this historic area. Enjoy a special tea lecture and tasting hosted by the tea producers association.
Kyoto is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan and there we will experience the spirit of the old days. Discover the ancient art of pottery making in a potter's workshop, stay in a traditional Ryokan (guest house), dine on the elaborate Kaiseki tea ceremony meal, hunt for treasures in the traditional Ninenzaka market street, wander through sacred temples with meditative Zen rock gardens, relax in traditional tea houses and release your tensions in a soothing onsen hot bath. Pay a special visit to the oldest tea garden in all of Japan.
In the small tea town of Wazuka, we'll meet with tea farmers, pick and make our own tea and also make our own powdered Mat Cha. In the evening, enjoy a "hot-pot" style dinner using Houji Cha (roasted green tea) as the broth. Staying in the local Japanese style Inn you may also steep yourself in the Houji Cha hot tub!
In the famous tea town of Uji see how Mat Cha tea is made and taste different examples of freshly made tea. A stop for Mat Cha ice cream is a must.
Shizuoka prefecture is unrivaled in tea production and we'll visit several locations including taking the historic steam train up into the mountains of Kawane. Study with a famous Gyokuro master in Okabe, participate in a lecture at the Tea Research Institute, explore the national tea museum and enjoy a banquet made of dishes, all using tea leaves. Pick tea leaves in view of the iconic Mt. Fuji before making our way to Tokyo, the nation's capital city for more excitement and tea.
This twelve day tour is packed full of exciting, interesting, and authentic experiences. With the exhilarating three day Tokyo Post-tour extension, delight in even more memorable experiences. The exciting itinerary is sure to delight both novice and experienced tea professional, providing special memories that will last a lifetime. Due to the unique nature of this tour, space is limited, so please make your reservations early.