Enveloped by misty mountains and rich in clear air and water, the area of Ureshino, in Saga Prefecture, is perfect for tea cultivation. In this area filled with sloping tea fields, a network of local makers and blenders, hotels, spas and potteries has been created through Ureshino Chadoki. This unique collaboration links several craft traditions and makers in the region, together offering the unique Ureshino Tea Experience. This project holds tea tastings, dinners and events, and even brings guests to intimate spaces on tea farms tucked away in the forest or overlooking the ocean.
Enveloped by misty mountains and rich in clear air and water, the area of Ureshino, in Saga Prefecture, is perfect for tea cultivation
Buddhist monks first introduced tea to Kyushu from China in the 9th Century. The consumption of, and appreciation for, tea spread all over Japan, making it the country’s national drink. The majority of tea produced in Ureshino is its signature tamaryokucha variety, made with a uniquely Japanese steaming process. Another representative variety is kamairicha, made by pan-frying tea leaves through a method with historical roots in China. Both techniques are common in Kyushu, and result in tea with rounded, deep flavours and low astringency.
The Ureshino Tea Experience serves a variety of different local teas; green tea and roasted tea form part of this selection; each type has a variety of grades and can be served at different temperatures. Surrounded by the natural atmosphere, guests are served a course of tea and sweets prepared by tea growers themselves. There is also an option for a tea sommelier to organise personalised tea experiences and pairings for guests staying at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan). The program embraces the tradition of the tea ceremony, which began in Japan in the 16th Century. In Japan, tea is not just a drink but a tradition, ceremony, and meditative practice. Through the experiences offered by Ureshino Chadoki, guests can take a quiet moment to enjoy the surroundings, their company and the pottery.
The production of tea here is thus greatly intertwined with the development of the ceramics craft in the area. Along with tea cultivation practices, Ming Dynasty Chinese potters brought ceramics culture to Ureshino – producing pottery to be used in daily life.
Ureshino is also known for its hot springs (onsen). The Ureshino Onsen hot springs are known throughout Japan for their skin beautifying properties. The spring water contains a high level of sodium, which smooths out the keratinised skin of bathers and provides rejuvenating effects.
Over time, tea has become a mass-produced commodity, sidelining its traditions and unique tastes. Ureshino Chadoki addresses this neglect to reconnect with the local traditions and tastes of tea grown directly in Ureshino. Through this project tea farmers, potters, and hot spring inns all collaborate to express these traditional cultures in new ways, culminating in an all-encompassing experience for visitors.