Japan is famous for producing some of the world's finest teas. Tea, or "ocha" in Japanese, has been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries. Green tea is grown in a variety of regions throughout the country, including Kyoto, Shizuoka and Kagoshima.
With distinct flavors and aromas that are highly sought after by tea connoisseurs, Japan is the place to visit for authentic tea experiences—and there are plenty to choose from. Here are some of the best tea farm experiences in Japan.
Top Tea-Growing Regions in Japan
Japan has several regions that are well known for producing exquisite green tea. Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture, Kagoshima Prefecture down in Kyushu, and Sayama in Saitama Prefecture are a few of the most famous areas for tea cultivation.
The distinctive flavors and qualities of these regions' teas are the result of their diverse climates, altitudes, and soil types. Uji is particularly well known for its matcha (powdered green tea), as well as gyokuro teas, which are shaded for weeks before harvest to increase their umami and sweetness.
Tip: Explore the world of matcha by taking part in a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto.
On the other hand, Shizuoka is Japan's largest tea-growing region and produces a wide range of teas, including sencha, the country's most popular green tea (this is the kind you'll find everywhere, including restaurants and in vending machines).
Kagoshima is renowned for its flavorful and aromatic green teas, while Sayama is famous for its strong and bold sencha. These regions are all on the map for their distinct tea cultures and traditions, and their teas are highly regarded both in Japan and around the world.
5 Best Tea Regions in Japan
The top tea-growing areas in Japan include:
- Shizuoka Prefecture
- Kyoto Prefecture (notably Uji)
- Kagoshima Prefecture
- Saitama Prefecture (notably Sayama)
- Aichi Prefecture
1. Shizuoka: Where Most of Japan's Green Tea Comes From
Shizuoka is the largest tea-producing region in Japan, and its green teas are known for their fresh and earthy taste. Shizuoka accounts for over 40% of Japan’s tea production!
Shizuoka Tea Farm Experience:
You can see this incredible tea region for yourself on an award-winning Japanese Tea Tour in Shizuoka. Taking place amongst lush tea terraces, the tour offers a unique opportunity to learn deeply about Japanese tea. After seeing the tea farm, you will partake in not only Japanese tea tasting, but also tea roasting and blending experiences—and even make your own nerikiri (traditional Japanese sweets) to enjoy with a cup of matcha. For a tea farm-to-cup experience, take a Shizuoka Tea Farm and Factory Tour or a Tea Farm to Factory to Cafe to learn about the brewing and production process, then try the tea in its final form at local cafes.
Tip: Another fun way to experience Shizuoka's tea farms is by hopping on a bike and taking part in a small group tour.
2. Kyoto: Steeped in Tea History
The tiny town of Wazuka in Uji, with a population of only 5000, is home to an impressive 300 tea farming families. Tea farming is core to life in Wazuka and the town is responsible for 40% of the annual Uji matcha production.
Kyoto Tea Farm Experience:
Participants on the Uji Matcha Tea Picking Experience Tour have the chance to select premium green tea leaves directly from the source. A Wazuka local will guide you the whole way, and share interesting insights and advice. This tour is a rare chance to see and experience the crucial first steps in producing high-quality Japanese green tea.
Explore More of Uji:
3. Aichi: Green Tea Grown at High Altitudes
Aichi tea leaves are grown at high altitudes, which gives them a delicate and refined flavor. Aichi tea is known for its gentle and refreshing taste, which is often described as having a subtle sweetness and a smooth finish. The tea is also famous for its fresh aroma.
Aichi Tea Farm Experience:
The leaf-to-brew Nishio Matcha Tour in Aichi begins at Nishio Tea Farm, near Nagoya, where you can dress in traditional tea-picking wear and take pictures while surrounded by a sea of vibrant green tea bushes. After that, you will go to a matcha-making factory and try grinding your own matcha using traditional methods.
You will then learn the proper whisking technique for making delicious, frothy matcha at a historical tea shop. Following a sumptuous lunch of sashimi and tonkatsu, you will visit other important sites in Nishio. If you only have one chance to visit a tea farm while in Japan, this all-inclusive tour is the one for you!
4. Saitama: Rich and Bold Teas—and Tea Tempura!
Sayama tea from Saitama is highly regarded for its rich and bold yet sweet flavors, and deep green color. This tea is also famous for its distinct aroma, which is described as being both a little grassy and floral.
Saitama Tea Farm Experience:
On the popular Saitama Sayama Tea Farm Tour, you can try your hand at green-tea-picking while outfitted in a traditional uniform crafted just for this occasion. After you've picked your tea, it’s time to hand roll it and eat it as tempura (yes, you can eat some kinds of tea!).
In addition, you will gain insider knowledge about the origin and production of tea leaves over the course of the tour.
5. Kagoshima: Teas With Extraordinary Balance, Body and Color
Located in the southernmost region of Kyushu, Kagoshima benefits from a warm and humid climate, ideal for tea cultivation. The tea leaves grown in this region possess unique characteristics, such as a rich, full-bodied flavor, vibrant green color, and a delightful balance of sweetness and astringency.
Kagoshima is particularly celebrated for its sencha, which is the most widely consumed tea in Japan. Kagoshima is also the second-largest tea-producing region in the country.
Kagoshima Tea Farm Experience:
Tea enthusiasts can explore tea plantations, visit tea factories, and participate in tea tastings to fully appreciate the exceptional flavors and craftsmanship that Kagoshima's teas have to offer. Find out more.
Japanese Tea Region FAQs
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about green tea grown in Japan.
Where is the Best Tea Grown in Japan?
It depends who you ask! Some of the best tea in Japan is grown in Shizuoka, Kyoto (Uji) and Saitama (near Tokyo).
What is the Number 1 Tea in Japan?
The most popular tea in Japan is sencha, a type of green tea made by a loose leaf infusion in water. It is drunk daily at home and work, and can be bought from shops and vending machines across the country. Read more about the different types of Japanese tea.
What is the Biggest Tea Farm in Japan?
The largest tea plantation in Japan is said to be Makinohara, in Shizuoka Prefecture.
A visit to a Japanese tea farm provides a unique opportunity for tea enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the culture and history of Japan's tea regions. These experiences offer a comprehensive look into the world of Japanese tea.
From picking tea leaves while wearing traditional clothing to visiting matcha-processing factories and learning the art of tea whisking, spending some time on a Japanese tea farm is an excellent way to learn about the intricacies of tea production and enjoy some of the finest teas in the world. Whether you're a fan of matcha, sencha, or gyokuro, there is a region in Japan that produces the tea you love.