Virtual Japanese Green Tea Tour – What Is It?

I was so excited to be one of the first people to join the Virtual Green Tea Tour, a new and magical tour offered by Arigato Japan. They have been the pioneer for English-speaking Japanese tours for many years, featured by the New York Times Travel Shows, CNN Travel, and more.

With the rise of COVID-19, you can imagine the tough situation for the tourism industry; with this, a brand-new tour was born: A virtual green tea tour named “Tokyo Online: Green Teatime in Japan”.

In this article (and a bit of video), I want to share with you a small segment of the virtual tour, and my first-person experience of this brand-new experience. It was hosted by Lauren, a partner of Arigato Japan, who has been an extraordinary tour guide for close to a decade. Read on and watch the video to learn more about this amazing experience for any tea lovers and “Japan lovers” in the world.

Short Preview of the Tour

With permission from Arigato Japan, I am sharing a short clip of the actual tour.  This is only a brief, one-minute clip — a small part of the video — so that you can see what it is like on the virtual tour. 

What Did I Learn From the Tour?

There are two elements in the world of tea that have helped drive a critical part of my love for tea: The experience of tea and the complexities of Japanese tea. Life is full of experiences.

When we explore the world of tea, for example, we see the labels, touch the products, smell the leaves, or perhaps try to understand what makes the tea stand out.

Perhaps, when we really think about our experience and tea, we have more questions than answers.

On the complexities of Japanese tea, look no further than to these considerations:

  • Why is the year’s first batch of Japanese tea so important?
  • What makes it unique?
  • Why has Japanese culture developed specific brewing instructions for some specific teas?

The questions are seemingly endless.

  1. Provide experiences related to Japanese green tea.
  2. Simplify the beautiful world of Japanese green tea for easy enjoyment.
  3. Teach some tips on brewing better green tea at home.
  4. Provide an interactive experience of brewing and drinking tea together.

While their offerings are not limited to Japanese green tea, I want to spend the next few moments outlining a virtual tour on Japanese green tea that helps to synthesize their organization’s value.

A screen capture of the Arigato Food Tours webpage featuring Japanese green tea

Who Created This Tour? – About Arigato Food Tour

In fact, Arigato Food Tours has been providing all kinds of tours throughout various parts of Japan and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise for those curious about learning more about what Japan has to offer.

Arigato Food Tours has been featured by:

  • New York Times Travel Shows
  • U.S. News & World Report Travel Weekly
  • Travel with Darley (popular TV Show – do you know this show?)
  • Forbes and Newsweek
  • CNN Travel

My session of the Virtual tour was hosted by Lauren.

Lauren is one of the partners from Arigato Japan. From Pennsylvania, Lauren considers Japan her second or, perhaps, her first home. Having lived there for multiple decades, Lauren has a deep passion for Japan, its history, its culture, food, the world of Japanese tea, and sharing the world of Japan through her organization’s many offerings.

Graphic featuring a photo of Arigato Food Tours' guide Lauren and some biographical information about her

What is the Tour Like? – The First Look

This tour began with introductions and included individuals from the Czech Republic, Tokyo, and America. Immediately, I was connected with not only Lauren, but the presentation’s thesis: Online Green Teatime.

Everyone on the tour loves green tea or Japan in some way, so it was very nice to hang out with people with similar passions.

Lauren then moved to a short yet head-scratching quiz on tea. Without giving too much away, it will make most tea lovers dive into their knowledge of tea.

Of course, being on a tea tour, making tea is a critical element.

Artistic photograph of some Japanese tea cups, one containing a delightful-looking Japanese green tea and the other with the dregs of tea

Making of Japanese Green Tea, the “Better” Way

Her tour included the making of Japanese green tea, the “better” way.

She explained this so well in simple terms. My personal hero, Osamu Tezuka, once said “A great teacher is who can explain the complex matter in simple terms.” Lauren did just that during the tour. 

I happen to know a bit about this topic (green tea), but there was something new even to me, which I am thinking of writing a whole blog post about in the near future.  (Thank you, Lauren!)

Walking through each of the steps, each participant made a delicious cup of tea and reviewed it accordingly. As Lauren details the health benefits of tea, her passion for education shines.

Participants clearly enjoyed their cup of tea. Again, weaving through the experience of and the complexities of tea, the tour then moves to the history of tea, and what makes matcha unique and concludes with participant questions.

The tour felt like and was clearly an extension of Arigato Japan’s tours. There were a plethora of added benefits.

A Wonderful Tour for Both Introverts and Extroverts

As you may know, I am an extreme introvert. Shyness impacts some of my decisions when congregating with others. 

On any bus tour, I am the one who sits at the very back of the bus and listens very closely, but never raises my hand to ask questions. 

Lauren is welcoming, kind, and above all warm. As touched on, it was engaging – but not to the point of undermining my own enjoyment.

Image of two cups of Japanese green tea on saucers, one still being poured

It was perfect for introverted people like me who wanted to enjoy the tour, but not to engage too much.  

But she did engage with people who wanted to engage more during the tour, and answered every question with sincerity. 

Being able to quickly judge the different personalities in the group and make the tour fun for everybody is a skill that can only be performed by an expert who has been on the front-line of conducting tours and entertaining the world for years.

It is clear Lauren has done such tours so many times before, and her knowledge and expertise show naturally. Perhaps the best tour I have been part of, it was definitely worth my time and overall a great time. 

I feel that this virtual tour was a marriage between expert tour guides who are always out and “offline” in the field and the virtual reality “online” world which could only happen in this wired circumstance happening right now as a result of COVID-19. I hate COVID-19 as much as anyone else does, but I am grateful for the newborn tour excitement that it created as a result.

That Magical Experience of Feeling Like I Am Touring a Japanese Tea Farm

The tour was a little over an hour, but it was so fun and engaging that I felt like I was on a bus in Japan moving from Japanese tea farms to tea shops. 

The moment right after the tour ended; I felt lost for a few seconds until I realized that I was in my own living room. Lauren’s tour magic really transported me into the true virtual world of tea in Japan.  Wow!

Comic drawn by author of a blob saying, "Green tea tour should have a bathroom in a bus" and the text "Tea farm this way please..." and the Japanese phrase "oishiiyo" meaning "so tasty."

If you’re looking to understand more about Japanese green tea — and want to get out to the magical world of Japan and tea — this is a perfect option that covers everything about Japanese green tea. In fact, you may find yourself looking at more of the organization’s services. Being confident in what you’re paying for can be difficult: Do they really know what they’re talking about? In part, the Japanese green tea tour was a show of Lauren’s passion, and her knowledge and skills were clearly on display.

Click Here to Book a Virtual Green Tea Tour Now

This article has been reformatted and updated from the original July 2020 publication.

Graphic of Lauren and her bio from the Arigato Food Tours website

Photo “(green) tea for two” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “Photo Graphic” and is being posted unaltered (source)

This content was originally published on the blog and is being reprinted with permission