Are you looking for an all-in-one tea experience? Well, look no further: come to Grinpia Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture!
Upon arriving at Grinpia Makinohara, it's obvious to see why it is one of the largest tea companies in Makinohara City, right at the heart of one of the best green tea regions of Japan! The Makinohara Plateau is famously known as the largest region of green tea plantations and productions, and here at Grinpia, you can enjoy tea harvesting (in season), tea tasting, a factory tour, shopping, and even a green tea chocolate factory! All bundled into the same complex, making it a fun day out.
First, I recommend stepping into the factory to learn all about the Makinohara green tea. It has been fantastically curated, with information boards in both Japanese and English to lead you through the history of tea cultivation, the intricate development over generations, and how the machines (which can be seen close up) were integrated with the masterful process to explode production on a global scale.
If the season is right, you can also experience green tea picking, but alas, my visit was during the off-season, so instead I went swiftly on to the shops! You might be surprised at the wide variety of products here, and the sheer range of teas on offer. Not only the typical green tea that you know, but fusion teas of all kinds, particularly specializing in fusion matcha!
My favorite was an Earl Grey-like green tea called “Southern Cross”, that was fused with bergamot! In fact, it was so delicious that I forgot to snap a photo!
This facility also houses Nanaya’s Matcha Gelato, which is now very popular among the younger generations of Japan. The selection ranges in strength which you can pick from scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the strongest darkest matcha taste; and as the shop lady explained, it's also the most popular choice. The local specialty of Houji-cha roasted tea gelato is also a popular selection, because of its deep smokey flavor.
Adjacent to the shop is an old Japanese house where you can find some of the most amazing fusion craft chocolates. It's hard to describe all the flavors on offer, so you'll just have to take my word for it and visit it in person. Stock up, and gorge yourselves on a supply that would make Willy Wonka jealous!
I had a wonderful afternoon learning, exploring, tasting, and indulging. I'd recommend going in the spring and summer months to experience the tea picking at the same time, but honestly, the craft chocolate is enough of a reason to visit!