Jia En Sim


Intern #145

Instagram: @runawaybears and @en.ocha

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jiaensim/

Hi everyone, I am Jia En from sunny Singapore.


Tea has always been a part of my life growing up. Where I’m from, it’s easy to find Chinese teas, herbal teas and black teas, and I have been drinking loads of them since young. It’s a drink that accompanies my meals, one I never considered giving a second thought to learning more about, until 2019, when I read a novel titled ‘Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane’ (written by Lisa See) which made me think differently. My curiosity and appreciation for tea grew from there.

The sound of boiling water. The counting of seconds while tea brews. The earthy scent of brewed Pu-er tea. The changing colours in the cups. The warmth of the cup against my hands. In the silence of tea brewing which sometimes became a mindful practice, I notice the thoughts and emotions that surface. Tea brewing and its introspection also became a fun activity I shared with my friend and her family.

I began to imagine the possibility of working in the tea fields one day, and I’d have several people in my life to thank, for encouraging what felt like a silly little dream to take root and grow in my heart.

I always feel excited and nervous to harvest! Thank you Akky-san, Miwako-san and the rest of the staff for your patience and guidance!


It was an easy decision. This internship was introduced by a friend at the perfect timing – as I was taking a break from feelings of burnout and restlessness from work. I wanted to immerse myself in a different environment and culture, find rest in nature and of course, fulfil the silly little dream I had. The internship checked out all the boxes and more. Excited about the possibility of feeling and experiencing tea up close – to see it growing in the fields, to care for and harvest it, to learn how its processed, tasting it in the cup and sharing it with guests, I couldn’t wait to learn and experience all that there is. 


While I enjoyed harvesting the most, it was tasks like the installation, opening and closing of shades, trimming and weeding, and the tricks to safeguard yourself in the fields that made me better appreciate how Obubu (and tea farmers in general) deliver delicious tea to the table. A lot of laborious work, long hours and heart work goes into cultivating, harvesting, and processing, and it was pure joy that I was entrusted to be involved in these activities. P.S. There’s nothing to not love when you’re riding on the back of the truck with some freshly harvested leaves and watching the forest foliage! 

In the weeks leading up to the spring harvest, we cleaned and restored the Houjicha House which would become home for future interns whom I may never meet. This, to me, is the epitome of an Obubu internship, how everyone’s efforts contribute in building the place, community and culture we now enjoy at Obubu. 

Miwako-san, Yanis (Intern #143) and myself hiding in the repurposed chabako shelves built by Andri (Intern #141). Instead of us, tea now lives in them. 

Knowing that Japan is well-known for its long standing history in ceramics, I was curious about learning from professionals who are involved in the art and business of ceramic tea wares. Thanks to Obubu, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Kuniki Kato and Mr.Toshiyuki Matsubayashi who each belong to a family of ceramic craftsmen and it was my great pleasure to learn from their experiences and insights towards ceramics and tea. 


One value that has impacted me the most during my time in Obubu is its emphasis on ‘一期一会’ (Ichi-go ichi-e), which means ‘one chance in a lifetime’. I cherish my time spent at Obubu and hold on to its dedication and passion towards tea and its community. This will not be an end to my tea journey and look forward to other opportunities to learn more about tea and the people behind it. I sincerely believe that there is much to learn and gain from tea, and I hope to share the joys and challenges of tea-making and introspection of tea brewing to people. 

Happy to connect with you through:
Instagram: @runawaybears

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jiaensim/

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