| ENGLISH | FRENCH | SWEDISH |
WISDOM TEAHOUSE
WISDOM TEAHOUSE
Clean your body Clear your mind Tea for wisdom

A Little-known Tea Estate Deep in the Mountains of Kyoto – Wazuka-cha
There is a tea that has been grown continuously over a span of 800 years in the beautiful calm of a rural mountain town. That tea is known as Wazuka-cha, and it is produced by 300 households in Wazuka, a town with a population of approximately 4,300 people located in Soraku District, southern Kyoto. Many of the town’s farms remain family-owned and have been passing down a love of tea and tea farming techniques for generations. Forty percent of the tea of this area is used for Uji-cha, a brand of tea marketed by the tea sellers of Uji that is widely considered to be of the highest quality and demands the highest prices of all the teas in Japan. And yet, although Uji-cha enjoys tremendous fame, few are aware of the fantastic yet humble landscape of Wazuka where the source tea leaves are grown.

WISDOM TEAHOUSE

Tea cultivations first began in Japan when Zen monks that had travelled to China returned with tea seeds. This was right around the time of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), when rule by Japan’s samurai class began in earnest. It is said that Eisai, the founder of the Rinzai school of Buddhism, received tea seeds while studying in the Nansong area of China. Upon returning to Japan, he presented those seeds as a gift to the holy priest Myoe of Kosan-ji Temple at Toganoo-san Mountain. Considered to be effective against drowsiness and excellent for one’s health, Japanese monks-in-training quickly grew fond of the new drink made from the tea leaves. Wazuka’s relationship with tea is said to have started when the holy priest Jishin of Kaijusen-ji Temple began to grow some seeds given to him by Myoe around the foothills of Jubu-zan Mountain.

WISDOM TEAHOUSE

The tomb of Prince Asaka, who was the fifth son of Emperor Shomu and died in 774 at 17 years of age. He loved this area, which was then situated between Heijo-kyo, Kuni-kyo and Shigaraki Palace.

By the mid-Edo Period (1603-1868), tea farms were beginning to sprout up all around Wazuka, spurred on by Soen Nagatani’s 1783 invention of the Aosei Sencha Seiho, or “green tea steaming method,” which gave birth to sencha tea. At that time, only the tea masters of Uji were permitted by the Shogunate to produce the powdered tea that serves as the base for matcha tea. Hailing from a farm in Ujitawara-cho Town, located next to Wazuka, Soen worked tirelessly through a process of trial and error lasting 15 years in order to create a delicious tea that could be produced without infringing on the methods used by matcha producers. He eventually came up with sencha tea, a drink that became popular mainly in Edo and which could be enjoyed on a daily basis, regardless of social class.

WISDOM TEAHOUSE

Clay dug up in this area is used to make the dark silver tiles. Here, tea fields spread right up alongside the local houses.

Tea became one of the main items for export after raw silk thread, from the start of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and the end of Japan’s period of isolation. Domestic consumption peaked after the end of World War II, and tea farms spread even further across the land. Seventy-five percent of the land in Wazuka is covered by forested mountains, meaning that not a few tea fields are located on dangerously steep slopes and must be hand-tilled. This landscape, created by the people living in Wazuka and their work there, was awarded Kyoto Prefecture Cultural Landscape Rank 1 status in 2008. 

WISDOM TEAHOUSE
 
Copyright (c) WISDOM TEAHOUSE All Rights Reserved.