Gabrielle McCabe

Gabrielle McCabe, United States of America

Intern #161

Instagram: @intheeyesofg

Before Obubu

Before I came to Obubu, I was working the same job for the past 4 ½ years and was feeling extremely burnt out and uninspired from it. I remember I was lying in bed one night, and I had what I call a “quarter life crisis” thinking “what am I actually doing with my life?”. I spent a lot of time traveling throughout the states but I was regretting not experiencing life in a foreign country during my early twenties. I didn’t want to be old and have a life full of regrets, so I knew that spending time in a foreign country and experiencing a new culture was something I had to do.

Asian culture and Buddhist philosophy has always been very interesting to me so I knew I wanted to travel to Asia to experience it with my own eyes. As far as tea goes, I have been drinking herbal tea since I was a child as my mom used to make it for me whenever I was sick. I became very interested in health & wellness a few years ago and learned a lot about herbs and would come up with my own herbal tea infusions, but my knowledge of green tea was very minimal. About two years ago, I realized I was very sensitive to caffeine. Coffee made me feel horrible and would keep me wired and jittery for hours, so I had to stop drinking it. I took a break from drinking anything caffeinated, but when I started having to get up for work at 4AM everyday, I needed something to help wake me up. This is when my love for matcha and sencha began, as it was the only thing I could drink that would give me the energy I needed without the side effects.

Why Obubu

At the point I was in my life, it really was more of “why not Obubu?”. I was scrolling through Instagram one day and came across a post about Obubu’s internship program. I did a lot of research and read every single intern’s profile page. It sounded too good to be true: learning about tea, working on a farm, experiencing a new culture, living in a small village in Japan.. Once I knew about Obubu, I felt there was no other option. I couldn’t get it off my mind. I truly believe that everything happens in your life at the time it is supposed to, and I felt that I found out about Obubu for a reason.

During Obubu

I think it’s easy to read through all the different intern profiles and paint the Obubu internship program to be a “fairytale”. While there were definitely moments where I truly felt I was living in a Ghibli movie, I had a hard time in the beginning adjusting to my new life. I felt very out of place my first month being here. I am a very introverted person who has a hard time opening up to people and I never experienced living with roommates before. I didn’t know anything about Japanese tea and felt that everybody else was so much smarter than me. I questioned if I made the right decision and if I should stay at Obubu. I decided to have an open mind and give it another chance, and I’m so glad that I did!

I think around a month and half into my internship, I felt so much more at home and at peace at Obubu. Everybody started to feel more like family and I felt more comfortable navigating my way through Japan. The team at Obubu is so kind and they don’t expect you to have the knowledge about tea, they just want you to have the passion to be willing to learn about it. I asked many questions and was always eager to learn more. I watched myself grow a lot during these 3 months. I was really able to work on my public speaking skills during tea tours and it made me proud to not have to rely on reading the script after presenting so much. The first time I harvested tea, I didn’t think I was physically fit enough to handle it. I remember I had to harvest 3 days in a row and was really worried about it, but by the 3rd day I was running up the slopes at Aoi Mori with full harvest bags because I felt so much energy from harvesting and it became my favorite activity! 

The internship program really is what you make of it, it can be the best time or the worst, it’s all about your attitude. It also does depend a lot on the group of interns that you are there with and the time of year, so no internship will be the same. I feel very blessed that the group I was with applied for the same time frame that I did and I loved being in Japan during Autumn to watch the leaves change colors and experience the Autumn harvest season. I spent a lot of time traveling on the weekends. It was amazing to be able to go out and explore so much of Japan, but then have a quiet place you can come home to at night.

After Obubu

After leaving Obubu, I know that I want to continue to learn more about tea. I feel that I have just barely scratched the surface of tea and want to continue to expand my knowledge of tea and tea culture. I am going to Taiwan after leaving Japan and am very excited to try some Taiwanese tea! After that, I will be in Thailand to learn more about Buddhist culture before returning home to America.

I really don’t know what my long term plans are for life post Obubu.  It was a strange and transformational time of life I was in before coming here. I know that I want to live somewhere surrounded by nature, with a garden and a small community of people that share similar interests as me. I realized how much happier and at peace I felt when I was hanging around Wazuka compared to being in the craziness of Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka. I’m excited to see what this new version of Gabrielle decides to do with the knowledge and experience I have gained from Obubu.

If you love nature, Wazuka is a great place to be in. The sunsets and the moon rises are amazing.


I want to give a special thank you to the Obubu Staff for allowing so many foreigners to live and work on their farm and creating this internship program. This really is a very special opportunity that is hard to find anywhere else on Earth and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. Also, thank you to the assistant managers Jean, Sarah, & Pau, you all are amazing, funny, and full of knowledge. 

A big thank you to Emma & Elvira, it’s crazy to look back at how much our friendship grew during our three months together. We have so much in common and I loved all our trips and movie nights together. I’m forever thankful that we all ended up at Obubu during the same timeframe.

Also a thank you to my senpai’s, to Cameron, the kohais, and the many other people I met during my time at Obubu.

Thank you to whoever is reading this blog post and if you have any questions about anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me! I hope that my story speaks to at least one person, wherever you may be in the world, and inspires you to do what you want to do in life, not what other people think you should do. 

Feel free to follow me on instagram: @intheeyesofg

Wishing you the best in life! <3 

-Gabrielle McCabe