Experience Processing and Making Your Own Tea at Fukujuen Kobo in Uji

Fukujuen is one of the most famous tea companies in Kyoto and has over 210 years of history. Fukujuen has recently opened a new and interesting ‘workshop’ (interpretive center) where you can experience how to make tea. Not brew a cup of tea, but experience the process of preparing fresh tea leaves for brewing tea, first hand, by hand. I had a chance to visit the the Fukujuen Uji Kobo yesterday and it was excellent. It is a new and beautiful center that with a very open and positive attitude is spreading knowledge and appreciation of Japan’s unique tea culture.

Kyoto Tea is Uji Tea
Uji is a southern suburb of Kyoto, about 30 minutes by train from Kyoto Station. Uji is best known as one of the two largest tea producing regions of Japan (Shizuoka is the other). Kyoto tea is Uji tea, called Uji-cha in Japanese.

The history of Uji goes back to the 4th century, when the capital was still in Nara. After Uji Bridge was built in 646, this area flourished as it connected and promoted commerce between Nara, Kyoto and Shiga. Uji has 2 world heritage sites and many more places to visit. Byodo-in Temple, which is on the 10 yen coin is in Uji, and Ujigami Shrine, the oldest standing shrine in Japan. I highly recommend spending a day in Uji to experience this tea culture oriented aspect of old Kyoto.

Fukujuen Tea Making Experience
Again, making your own tea doesn’t mean to make a cup (a bowl actually) of tea but to make take tea leaves from their fresh state to dried leaves for brewing tea.

I experienced making sencha. You start with 100 grams of fresh, steamed green tea leaves. You roll the leaves in your hand, squeeze and they put on a hot ceramic plate. This process is repeated several times and removes the yucky and bitter extract and will make the tea mellow in taste.

The process is a bit tiring, your arm, shoulder and back may ache, and your hands get green, but this slow drying process is the most important key to make tasty tea. If you cheat and try to dry only with the heat of the ceramic, it will be horrible taste, the teacher told us.

Next the teacher instructs us on how to make tea properly. Properly brewed tea tastes different. I have been enjoying green tea for 27 years but I did not know how sweet green tea can if you make it in a proper way!

This was a really wonderful experience and I highly recommend it!

Tea Processing Experience at Fukujuen Uji Kobo 福寿園宇治工房 体験

Fukujuen Uji Kobo

2 Responses to “Experience Processing and Making Your Own Tea at Fukujuen Kobo in Uji”

  1. extrarice says:

    That sounds really fascinating! Hopefully when I go to Japan I will be able to visit the Fujuken “workshop”.

  2. [OK] Michael says:

    Hello extrarice, I have not been there myself but I am planning on going pretty soon. It sounded really great from Miwa’s description. If you go, please come back to Open Kyoto and tell us what you thought. Also, we have a forum at http://www.OpenKyoto.com/kyoto-support/ that is a great place to share information about Kyoto.

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