Uji is the second-biggest tea-growing region in Japan (the largest is Shizuoka in the east of the country) and the area’s tea leaves have supplied Kyoto’s tea culture since the fourteenth century, when seeds brought over from China were first planted. It has become possible only quite recently to visit Uji’s tea fields and tea-processing factories, and the best time to do so is in May, when the first leaves of the season, later drunk as shin-cha (“new tea”), are being picked. Obubu Tea Plantations (wwww.obubutea.com) and Shohokuen (wwww.ujicha.com) are two growers which have recently started offering field and factory tours to tourists during the picking season; check their websites for details.

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Video: a 1 minute guide to Japan

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