These days, whenever I travel, I scout for tea places to hang out in. One of my favorite overseas tea spots is Hojo Tea in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’ve been there four times so far.
Malaysia is not exactly considered a country big on tea culture – coffee is the big beverage there. Its capital city is full of huge, spanking malls, and it is in one of these gigantic shopping complexes (suitably called Mid Valley City) where my top teashop is located.
Hojo Tea was established in 2006 by Mr. Akira Hojo, a Japanese resident, who decided to set up his own tea business after working in the food industry for many years in Malaysia. I’ve never met him in real life, but I feel that much of his meticulous personality shows in this cozy -some may say tiny – teashop. According to his staff. Mr. Hojo travels extensively and regularly to Japan, China, Taiwan, and India to source the best tea and teaware. In my opinion, some of the most delicious teas I’ve tried come from this shop. It is also in this shop that I bought my first few pieces of Chinese and Japanese teaware. Because the warm and knowledgeable staff made it a point to patiently walk me through each purchase, I was confident in my choices.
Anyone who steps into the Hojo teashop with a bit of time to spare is invariably given a precious tea lesson or two, along with a tea tasting session based on your unique taste preferences. It was in this shop where I first learned about how different teapots yield different brews with the same tea leaves. Here I took my first sips of Phoenix Dancong (I’ll never forget how this actually tasted like cookies) and a fascinating fruity brew from Yunnan wild white tea buds. I also get my Japanese green tea fix here, because I personally find their Japanese tea selection to be the freshest I can find in Southeast Asia.
Some of you over here at T Ching might never make it to Malaysia in your lifetime. The good news is that Mr. Hojo has been passionate about sharing his tea knowledge, so you can easily tap into his resources online. For one, he has a Hojo Tea newsletter which you can subscribe to here. He also has a YouTube channel where he demonstrates various tea brewing methods, along with clips of tea plantations and teaware factories that he sources from around the world. Hojo Tea also does international shipments, so you can buy the tea or teaware from wherever you are.
I love how this teashop, which seems so unexpected and tiny in its glitzy mall, has been able to do so much for tea drinkers around the world. I hope you get to partake of the Hojo experience too, whether virtually or in real life!
Images courtesy of the contributor.
I love the fact that you got so much information and education while being in this small tea shop. So it doesn’t matter the size of the shop, or the number of employees. It’s the serve that really sells the products and introduces the tea drinker to the wonders of tea. Whether that tea drinker is a 10 year tea veteran or a tea newbie, there’s always something to learn. I hadn’t realized that the actual tea vessel used can produce a significantly different flavor. I thought water temperature and quality and brew time were the primary factors that influenced taste. Thanks for teaching me something new.
Hi Michelle, according to my tea teacher, even your mood can affect how tea tastes, and some of my tea friends actually experiment with different types of spring water to see which comes up with the best tea brew. For me, and this is probably psychological, my best tea comes when I use my favourite teaware :)