Feb. 18, 2016 UPDATE
Enjoy out Matcha in Kyoto!
Famous Tea Shops
In Kyoto, a preeminent area for the production of Matcha, or fine green tea, tea merchants in existence through the ages continue to operate. Their absolute reliability with respect to quality has earned them popularity. In Part 2, we introduce three splendid tea shops visited by guests who come seeking these teas from within Kyoto and without, as well as from the rest of Japan and other countries. All three of these shops have long been dear to local people, and treasured as shops to visit on special occasions, such as when buying gifts for friends and family. In response to a worldwide surge in the popularity of Matcha, these shops have all become able to provide service in foreign languages, so that being able to shop with peace of mind adds to their appeal.
Ippodo TeaFounded nearly 300 years ago, this tea brand includes not just Matcha, but the full range of Japanese tea, from Sencha, perfect for day-to-day tea drinking, to Gyokuro, the highest grade of Japanese tea for special days and hospitality for the important people in one’s life. What is really wonderful about Ippodo, however, is that they make the delicious qualities of tea easily accessible without the need for particular tea pots, cups and other accouterments or exacting methods of bringing water to a near-boil then letting it sit for a moment. For example, their individually packaged Matcha tea powder is simply dissolved in cold or hot water, and their tetra-style tea bags make it possible to enjoy green tea in a water bottle or other container, making them a product loved by those new to tea as well as tea drinkers with many years’ experience. We also recommend their fresh-brewed Green tea, available for take-out, which you can carry in one hand as you take a refreshing break at nearby Kamogawa river, the largest and most peaceful river within the city.
Fukujuen Kyoto Flagship StoreWhen Japanese people hear Fukujuen, Kyoto mentioned, the image evoked is one of fine quality teas. But this is just one facet of this shop’s character. Having operated continually for more than 200 years, Fukujuen offers a wide range of products all related to Japanese tea, out of a desire to help make people’s lives more abundant through tea. On the fifth floor of the building housing the store, a variety of tea ceremony implements are sold, and on the fourth floor, guests can participate in a Tea ceremony experience (with English-language explanation, naturally!). A visit to the Fukujuen Kyoto Flagship Store, will definitely deepen your knowledge of Japanese tea.
Iyemon Salon KyotoDuring the 18th century, green tea began to spread among common people, becoming an essential part of daily life for Japanese people. Iyemon Salon Kyoto presents green tea enjoyment in a new style, blending it with Japan’s newer café culture Iyemon Salon is a café operated by major beverage manufacturer Suntory, which has established a beer brewery in Nagaokakyo, outside of Kyoto. The interior decor of the shop is modern and refined, and everything on the menu is a good accompaniment to Japanese tea. They naturally offer food selections, and their delicious Oyatsu set, available only during specific time periods, is a feast for the eyes as well. Theirs is a mid-range menu featuring both Japanese and Western-style confections. One menu selection particularly worthy of recommendation is the “Matcha Affogato”, vanilla ice cream under a thick matcha tea sauce. If you like Matcha sweets, you can’t go wrong here.