You probably have been enjoying Japanese tea for a while. And now you have a chance to visit Japan. Tokyo is on the list for almost every visitor to Japan. But where to go for tea?
Tea has always been a part of everyday live in Japan. In the past it was more common to have tea at home, than to go out for it. Over the last 15 years, though, tea culture in Tokyo has really blossomed, and now there are many modern as well as traditional tearooms where you can enjoy Japanese tea. In this article I would like to introduce the top 5 places for tea in Tokyo. In no way it is a conclusive list, but each tea place has something special about it.
In the heart of Omotesando – a trendy neighborhood of Tokyo it is unexpected, but pleasant to find a quiet and calm oasis – Sakurai tea bar. The minimalist design and muted colors create a unique relaxing atmosphere. The space is small with only 8 seats, but the L-shaped bar provides an intimate and cosy feeling.
All the focus is on tea, or more precisely the experience of tea. With the intention to surprise and delight the visitor the teas are served in a modern and often unusual way. Here you can find unique and often seasonal tea blends and other combinations with tea.
In a daytime you can try one of the specialty teas from various regions of Japan. Or you can choose a tea course for a complete experience of Japanese tea. The course involves three different brews of Gyokuro, freshly roasted Hojicha from your chosen tea leaves and of course Matcha with a traditional Japanese sweet of your choice. If you stop by in the evening, you will can delve into the persuasive menu of cocktails with various Japanese teas.
Recently this place has become quite popular, so reservation is recommended. And if you would like to take a piece of Sakurai home, the teas from the menu are also available for purchase at their small tea shop.
Tokyo Saryo – another modern tearoom worth mentioning. Located in a quiet residential neighborhood of Tokyo, this trendy tearoom has a simple and clean design, that you can see through the white glass door even before you enter. For a small space with just 9 seats around the U-shaped bar white decor with some wooden elements gives a light and warm feeling.
The teas served here are all single origin, that the owner himself travels around Japan to find. You can select two teas from their broad menu with a diagram advising on the flavor profile. Both teas are brewed twice and the one you prefer more can be brewed with roasted rice at the end.
The tearoom boasts a unique way to brew the teas – a drip method adopted from the coffee world. Though it works a little differently. The water is poured over the tea leaves in a ceramic cone above the pitcher, but the brew is not released into the pitcher until the ceramic cone is lifted up. Once the tea is served you can also see the brewed tea leaves.
Chachanoma, opened in 2005, is probably one of the oldest modern tearooms in Tokyo. It is a nice cosy space with a natural wooden décor and a more common café layout. Just a few steps away from a busy high-end shopping street, it is usually lively and bubbly.
Chachanoma has a broad selection of tea. The focus is on light-steamed Sencha from various regions of Japan, but of course you can try Matcha too. Every tea is served with card explaining about its origin and flavor profile.
Tea infused deserts here are beyond amazing. You can try Matcha cake, parfait, raw chocolate and much more. Combining the best of both the tea and desert set is really popular here.
Ippodo is a traditional Japanese tea shop born in Kyoto. Today there are three shops of Ippodo: in Kyoto, Tokyo and New York.
Opened more recently, and with the dark natural wooden décor, the tearoom in Tokyo has a more modern vide. When you enter inside, it has both: a few seats at the bar as well as several tables in a long tea room.
The menu has several high grade teas such as Matcha and Gyokuro. They are served in a more traditional way – using traditional teaware and combining the teas with Japanese sweets. In Matcha menu you can have Koicha too. And if you choose a loose-leaf tea, you can brew it yourself with the instructions from Ippodo staff.
The teas are also available at the shop before you leave. To experience an even more traditional version of Ippodo you have to visit their tea shop in Kyoto.
Jugetsudo is another Japanese tea shop with a long history. There are three tearooms today: two in Tokyo (Tsukiji and Ginza) and one in Paris. In general, Jugetsudo has a classy modern design and is aiming for high-end customers.
The tea shop in Ginza is in the Kabukiza tower (next to a Kabuki theater), and you can see a nice Japanese garden through the tearoom windows.
All the common Japanese teas – Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro, here are served in a traditional way: in Japanese teaware and together with Japanese sweets. They have some savory dishes and Matcha deserts too.
Great for souvenir shopping, there is also a big shop next to the tearoom.