Yena An

Yena An

Toronto, Canada

Intern #150

Instagram: @aa_yn_

Special thanks to: Kenji, a previous intern, an amazing photographer, and a fellow foodie.

Hello! This is Yena, intern #150, from Toronto, Canada.

Before Obubu

Growing up, I’ve always been partial to tea due to my sensitivity to caffeine. Coffee was equivalent to an energy drink for me: something I reserved for all-nighters and exams during my university years. Tea gave me a boost without the jitters. Once I started working as a teacher, my colleagues and students would always find me with a big tumbler filled with tea. Tea was with me day in, day out, yet I knew very little about tea itself.

My relationship with tea changed once I discovered pu-erh. I tried to brew it in western style, and failed spectacularly. It was an unpleasant experience (which I do not recommend for anyone). I searched online for a proper way to brew pu-erh, and thus began my trip down the rabbit hole. I started a masters course in tea sommellerie and began learning about tea in depth. My friend and I would have regular tea tasting sessions, spending hours tasting and talking about tea.

Why Obubu

It was a chance discovery. I bought Obubu’s tea through Yunomi Life. Naturally, I started following them on Instagram. Just as I was looking for a change of pace in my life, a promotion post of Obubu’s internship program popped up on my feed.

The internship program offered everything that I’ve been looking for: a hands-on experience in harvesting and processing tea. Ever since I began studying tea, I’ve been wanting to visit a tea factory and see how tea is processed in person. Japanese teas are my daily go-tos, so it made sense to start my factory visits in Japan. I immediately applied for a leave at work, and began my 3-months internship in June.

During Obubu

Something wonderful happens when like-minded people gather in one place, and that’s exactly what happened at Obubu. This is a safe haven for tea lovers. At Obubu, we can drink tea until we are drunk. We can geek out about tea without being judged. We can gush about teawares with abandon. Here, you can let your tea passions loose, because you’ll be sure to find someone who is a little more crazy about tea than you.

The beauty of this tea internship is that you get what you make of it. Your experience at Obubu depends on the choices you make, your attitude, and how much you immerse yourself in this microcosm. For me, my experience was shaped by the conversations that I had with the people at Obubu. There were countless memorable moments during my time at Obubu, but the best moments were those spent with the Obubu staff. Every staff member here has a wealth of knowledge on tea, and I walked away from every conversation having learned something new.

The last three months have been a whirlwind of tea-filled adventures. Every day, I woke up and started the day with a cup of tea, while looking out at tea fields from the kitchen window. Then we gathered in the office for the morning meeting, where we reviewed the tasks for the day while sipping on a cup of tea (the meetings always ended with our fists in the air, with cheers of “Let’s enjoy today!”). Whether I was out harvesting at the fields, processing tea at the factory, or giving tea tours, I was with tea all day long: tasting, touching, feeling, seeing, and breathing tea. Every. Single. Day. When you are at Obubu, tea is life.

After Obubu

While my life back at home will not change dramatically, my time at Obubu has made a huge impact in my tea journey. I walk away from this internship with a deeper appreciation and knowledge of tea, and way too much tea and teaware (is there such a thing as too much tea or teaware though?). And although I thought it to be impossible, my love for tea has grown even bigger. I will be looking back on my internship with fondness, trying to find the earliest opportunity to come back for a visit.

But until then, here are some things that I will miss about Obubu:

  • → drinking cold brew tea at the field (highlights: mejiro, tencha w/ matcha)
  • → sound of frogs singing at night
  • → the smell of tea leaves
  • → the houjicha house fridge, my sanctuary
  • → late nights in the factory with Akky-san
  • → George’s matcha (iced matcha in particular)
  • → Kayo-san, Obubu’s angel
  • → Hiro-san and all his catchphrases: “Can you?”, “As much as possible”, “Ja ne!”
  • → Jean, my kindred spirit
  • → George, his recommendations and our lunchtime talks
  • → Miwako-san, and her amazing umeboshi
  • → Sakura-chan, the most aloof dog I’ve ever met
  • → Sara, my soulmate, and the most talented artist ever
  • → Itsaya, the biggest mango-lover, with a big personality to match
  • → Symphony, the most lovable “dongsaeng” with the best reactions
  • → Juliette, and her impeccable taste in music
  • → Our kouhais: a breath of fresh air

Connect with me:

Instagram: @aa_yn_

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