Tea Farm Guesthouse “Enu to Enu”: Tea-loving owner delivers a tea-infused overnight experience
Inside a kominka (traditional Japanese house) in Kyoto’s Wazuka highlands is the “Tea Farm Guesthouse,” where lovers of Japanese tea can experience a dream come true: a night immersed in the wonders of the fragrant beverage. Noriko-san of the Kita Family, which has operated a tea plantation for generations, began the guesthouse “Enu to Enu” after remodeling her own kominka home. Limited to one group per night, we booked a stay so we could introduce it in all its charm!
Wazuka, in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture, is the main production area of Uji Tea, which accounts for approximately half of the tea production in Kyoto. Due to its vast array of tea fields spread out alongside the townscape, it has also become widely known as “Tea-topia.”
Working as full-time tea farmers in Wazuka are the parents of Noriko-san, the owner of Enu to Enu. They grow and process twenty-four varieties of tea.
Visitors to the guesthouse are greeted with a welcoming cup of tea, which Noriko-san chooses with consideration given to the season and the guests themselves. During our stay, we were served tencha (powdered green tea) of the “Asahi” variety.
Tencha does not go through the hand-rubbing process, and thus requires more time for its flavor to be extracted. Our drink, brewed slowly at a low temperature, was like no tea we had ever tasted, with its rich umami. Even more surprising were the second, third, and remaining sips that presented us with subtly different flavors, teasing our palates with the tea’s pure, untainted flavors and aroma.
For dinner at Enu to Enu, visitors can enjoy dishes that include the tea leaves that were used to brew their own drinks. According to Noriko-san, “Tea has anti-aging, anti-oxidant, and skin-beautifying effects. However, about seventy percent of those ingredients are in the tea leaves. By eating the leaves, you can absorb all of that nutrition. Above all, it’s delicious.”
Not only can the tea be appreciated through food, but there are also tea face masks and tea scrubs provided in the bathroom. Visitors can even soak in a tea-infused bath. Whether great fans of tea or not, guests are sure to enjoy this overnight immersive tea experience.
The time spent waiting for the tea flavors to be extracted is also a time to revel in conversation with others. While we waited for our tea to be ready, we asked Noriko-san what led her to start Enu to Enu.
While working a corporate job, Noriko-san’s hobby was to drive throughout the country and stay at guesthouses. Upon her mother’s suggestion, she brought along teaware and tea leaves from home to brew in the common area of the guesthouses. The experience of introducing Wazuka to the other travelers while serving family-grown tea left a strong impression on her. She thought, “What we’re growing has the potential to move the hearts of others.”
During her subsequent travels, she began to package, carry, and sell teaware from her family’s house to interested people. She was often asked to conduct tea workshops at guesthouses, and this experience conjured a desire to convey the charms of Wazuka tea and create a space where tea producers and consumers can connect. Coinciding with the start of “Ocha no Kyoto DMO,” a Kyoto-wide effort that aims to increase the value of Uji Tea and the regional production areas, she began Enu to Enu in her kominka home.
“There are those who can’t drink alcohol, but people both young and old can enjoy tea. I believe we can bring to life a special space built through conversation and tea. Tea can act as a communication tool that can create precious moments with loved ones, and it is also a culture we should be proud of.” Just as she promised, we were able to hear many wonderful stories we would not have heard outside of the guesthouse.
Beaming with pride for her family’s work and her love of Wazuka tea, Noriko-san said, “I want to introduce an aspect of tea that can only be understood by drinking it. I want people to feel a sense of familiarity with tea. I’d love to encourage the discovery of one’s favorite tea, and to be the catalyst in creating more opportunities to drink tea.” Her tea-lovers’ guesthouse certainly offers an experience unavailable anywhere else.
Enu to EnuHours: Check-in 4:00 PM, Check-out 10:00 AM
Address: 30 Naka-Sugadani, Wazuka, Soraku County, Kyoto
Access: 20-minute bus ride from Kamo Station (JR)
*The information herein is as of Novermber 2021.