Kyoto’s tea region: the birthplace of Japanese tea
Region： Kyoto Yamashiro
Tea cultivation methods were first introduced to Uji from China around 800 years ago. Tea farmers and distributors in the region developed their own horticultural processes, and their unique methods produced uniquely Japanese varieties of tea. These new varieties include sencha (green tea) produced from steamed and kneaded leaves, gyokuro (premium green tea), and matcha (powdered green tea). Both gyokuro and matcha are made from leaf buds grown in the shade to increase their theanine content, but matcha has its stems and veins removed before being ground on a stone mill. Eventually these techniques spread across the country, but tea cultivation has continued in Uji since its inception.
Regional foods: Uji tea
Uji sencha—green tea with a fresh aroma and refined astringency; most widely consumed. Uji gyokuro—green tea of the highest grade; strongly aromatic with a full-bodied flavor. Uji matcha—green tea stone-ground to a fine powder; fragrant and richly flavored without bitterness.
Regional foods: Chajiru
Along with their tea cultivation techniques, centuries of farmers in Kyoto’s tea region have passed down two culinary specialties: chajiru (tea soup) and korogaki (dried persimmons). Both are deeply associated with tea culture in Uji. Chajiru, the traditional lunch of workers in the tea fields, is a soup of vegetables and dried fish in a broth flavored with tea. Korogaki, which are served as a sweet accompaniment to tea, are made from small persimmons. The fruit is collected on huge outdoor racks to dry, and the sight is a familiar part of Uji’s autumn landscape.
Scenery: Ishitera tea fields in Wazuka
Across the Uji region, the history and culture of tea production have shaped the natural setting. The land is divided into tea fields, tea factories, and wholesaler districts, each with a distinctive character. The fields themselves form sweeping, verdant vistas that curve across the foothills. Numerous temples and shrines attest to the region’s long history, including Manpukuji—a Chinese-style Zen temple founded by the monk Ingen, who is often called the father of sencha. With generations of tea culture everywhere in evidence, a walk through Uji’s landscape can aptly be called “a walk through 800 years of tea history.”
Activities: Hands-on experiences of tea culture
Kyoto’s tea region is filled with opportunities for hands-on experiences of tea culture. Visitors can stay at a farmers’ guesthouse, then spend a day exploring the tea fields or picking their own tea leaves. They can participate in classes on tea-brewing, attend a tea-tasting, or learn to grind their own matcha. Finally, many local shops serve Uji matcha and matcha sweets accompanied by views that highlight the region’s scenic charm.
|Name||Kyoto Yamashiro DMO (Kyoto Infused with Tea)|