Continued from 8 Must-See Places in Tokyo for Tea Lovers – Part 1
5. Chachanoma Omotesando:
What about tea cafes? If you’re looking for a premium, know-it-all tea café then Chachanoma Omotesando may be your best bet. It’s easy to get to, being in Shibuya and near Shibuya Cat Street. The staff are incredibly friendly and even if you’re not a tea expert they’re ready, willing, and able to answer any questions you may have. Japan is known for taking politeness to the next level and cafes such as Chachanoma Omotesando embrace this as a core operating principle. Beyond the excellent customer service, they offer lunch, dinner, and classical dessert offerings – and a plethora of tea choices. Also be sure to pick up some tea on your way out!
6. Nakamura Tea Life Store:
During my research of tea shops in Japan, I came across this store near Asakusa. I find this business to be neat for a number of reasons: They specialize in organic tea, the business has been in the family for over 100 years, and the company combines Yukio Mishima’s understanding of Japan: A contradiction between old and new. As a lover of history, this company merges my passion for tea with history in the form of a premium set of products and constant curiosity. This company helps personify the kind of innovation Japan has employed in tea production; plus you can always enjoy everything else Asakusa has to offer along the way.
7. Ippodo Marunouchi:
Ippodo — founded approximately 300 years ago — opened their first shop in Tokyo in 2010. With tea leaves harvested from Kyoto, a region known for its quality, this company understands premium. Ever tried thicker matcha also known as koicha? Or thinner matcha known as usucha? This particular shop is great at appealing to tea experts and tea amateurs. When in doubt, feel free to order the “Five Petals” set – which is excellent matcha options paired with sweets, Gyokuro Tenkaichi, and Genmaicha. Their to-go menu may be worth your time as well!
Japan and tea are inseparable in some ways, but the amount of creativity that the Japanese have put into tea products consistently surprises me. Sakurai adds a level to what tea can offer. With a postmodern feel, Sakurai doesn’t immediately look like a tea shop: It’s a kind of kitchen seeking perfection. Sakurai offers traditional Japanese teas and a menu with items such as frothy matcha with wagashi sweets. However, the owner has also established his own line of tea-infused alcoholic drinks. Perhaps surprisingly, Sakurai is the kind of place that digs deeper into your curiosity when it comes to the possibilities of tea.
In my original experience with tea, tea was simply a matter of pouring hot water into a cup with some leaves or a tea bag. It was both simple and quick. However, the world of tea is in fact incredibly complicated.
One of the greatest benefits of exploring tea in Tokyo is that one can truly understand what others are doing with tea. The level of innovation continues with more flavors, different farming methods, and increased access. With a metro population of 38 million people, it’s hard to imagine that this level of innovation of tea is going anywhere soon in Tokyo. Beyond that, given how accessible the city is, it is easy to maximize the number of tea experiences.
I’m excited to return to Tokyo because I know there always something else for me when it comes to tea.