While I was finishing up my 2-year working visa in London, I was brainstorming what to do as my next career step (quarter life crisis hit me late). During that time, I talked to a friend of my from Vancouver and decided that opening a café could be an option. I have always loved food and tea so the idea had always been playing in the back of my mind. The friend I was talking to happened to be an amazing sweet maker having trained at one of the best cake shop in Vancouver. So it was decided that I explore deeper into the tea world to pull equal weight in this future plans of ours.
I started to look for tea courses in the UK which lead me to the Global Japanese Tea Association website and eventually to the Obubu website. There were many deciding factor for signing up.
- With the break in my career, it is the perfect time to come to Japan and learn about tea.
- This internship program is fitting to my learning style. I am the type of student that learn by immersing in the topic completely and doing each process step-by-step (sometimes multiple times). Obubu allowed me to gain that hands on experience.
- Interns get to participate in all aspects of the business from the farm all the way to the customers, making this program very well-rounded. With the plan of opening my own café in the future, this is a great learning opportunity for me to understand the running a small business related to tea.
- The internship program was established in 2012 with a sparkling reputation. This provided a sense of security and reassurance (very important when traveling to a foreign place on your own even if it is a place as safe as Japan).
I was very lucky to be here in the Autumn. A busy season where we get to learn lots and do lots with tea harvesting and processing but not as intense as the Spring season. Furthermore, Autumn in Wazuka is full of life. Because of the changing colours of the trees lining the Wazuka mountains while these colours are reflected off the river running through the town, it attracts a lot of tourists.
Our regular week consists of a mixture of the below activities:
- Tea Tourism – host tea tours for tourists
- Tea Harvesting and processing – help Akky-san harvest and process Aki-Bancha or Tencha
- Tea Discussion / Lounge – learn all about anything related to tea from own of the knowledgable staff at Obubu
Furthermore, Autumn special activities:
- Chagenkyo – host a booth at the annual Wazuka Tea Festival
- Japanese Tea Master Course – help out and participate in a portion of the Master Course held by Obubu
- Sweet Sakura Tea making – very self-explanatory
Time at Obubu pass really quickly even though it does not seem that way at times. We participated in many different activities and there is never a same day even though you are doing the same tasks at times. For example, we host regular tea tours and could be as busy as 6 days a week but no tea tours are the same as the guest changes as well. Another example is harvesting. The views at some of Obubu’s tea fields are just absolutely stunning and make the whole experience brand new even though you are using the same machine and method for harvesting.
Unfortunately, we all have to leave at some point. I will be heading back to Vancouver and going back to my regular job. I hope to be traveling to a few more tea producing countries in the next few years when I have time off. There is still so much about the tea world to be explored for me. During that exploring and traveling time, I will need to make a detailed business plan for that café. The goal is to open a café in Vancouver within 5 years’ time.