If you’re a frequent reader of this blog (if not, then you should be!) and are thinking of heading to Japan sometime soon, then you’re probably going to want to drink some tea whilst you’re over there, right?
I’ve compiled a list of the six best places to buy and drink green tea in the nation's capital, some of which you absolutely shouldn't miss! And don’t even think of drinking green tea in your hotel room and calling it quits.
Tokyo offers some of the most incredible green tea drinking experiences in the world, run by the country's most knowledgeable artisans. Whether you’re a seasoned Gyokuro drinker or a novice taking their first steps in the world of green tea, you’ll find a shop perfectly suited to you.
1. Tokyo Saryo, Setagaya City - Best for Minimalists
Image credit: Tokyo Saryo
In a small corner of Setagaya City, 20 minutes by train from Shibuya station, is a tea shop that presents Japanese minimalism at its finest. What started as a mission to provide good-quality tea to its customers has clearly turned into something much bigger.
Tokyo Sayro states that most people in Japan drink from PET bottles daily, which completely distort and negatively impact the taste of the tea. It then became their mission to provide the purest and most authentic tea-tasting experience they could. This allowed both visitors and regulars to enjoy Japanese tea the way it was intended to be enjoyed.
But as you’ll learn from a lot of shops on this list, a good-tasting tea shouldn't stop at the cup.
Tokyo Saryo’s interior has been specifically designed to encourage drinkers to focus solely on their cup and the present moment.
As such, the tasting room is fronted by two bi-fold doors that let in an extreme amount of natural light. This is accompanied by the presence of only wood and concrete in view during the tasting, a clear salute to modern Japanese design principles and traditional minimalism. Each of these components supports a mindful tasting experience that you’re seriously unlikely to achieve at your local Costa.
Tokyo Saryo also prides itself on being the world's first hand-drip green tea shop.
What is the hand-dripping technique?
Well, put simply, it’s the exact same process as pour-over coffee.
The sencha is placed in its own tea dripper and has hot water poured over it from a gooseneck teapot.
This technique ensures their single-origin tea is carefully brewed and tastes as it should.
Saryo is a Japanese tea shop like no other.
So go and have a tea tasting experience that only a few have ever had, and buy some tea to continue supporting their vision.
2. Ippodo, Tokyo Marunouchi Store - Best for luxury tea
Address: 〒100-0005 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Marunouchi, 3 Chome−1−1, Teigeki Building, 1階 Phone number: +81 3-6212-0202
My guil-tea pleasure…. (not proud of that one…)
If you’ve ever tried to find a tea shop in Tokyo, chances are you’ve heard of this one.
Opened in December 2010, the Tokyo Marunouchi store was Ippodo's second tea shop. Their 300-year-old flagship store is located in Kyoto.
I won't lie; Ippodo is a guilty pleasure of mine. The first time I found the Marunouchi store, I spent way too much money on matcha and gyokuro tea...
But hey, what’s money for if not to buy far too much tea?!
Not sure how the different varieties of tea will taste?
The staff inside the shop are extremely helpful and will gladly whip up a bowl of matcha or green tea in front of you to help you decide.
The shop also features a dimly lit tea room for you to enjoy Matcha, Gyokuro, Sencha, and Bancha at your own pace before deciding to purchase.
The decor is designed in a similar way to traditional Japanese tea rooms and Tokyo Saryo. However, it uses a lack of light to promote a mindful drinking experience instead of an abundance of it.
The shop stocks a variety of teas and is definitely on the more expensive side. But if you’re looking for something special to take home from your trip, then this is without a doubt the best place to go.
3. Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo, Chuo City - Best for food pairings
Address: Japan, 〒103-0027 Tokyo, Chuo City, Nihonbashi, 2 Chome−5−1 髙島屋三井ビルディング1階 Phone number: +81 3-3271-3273
Set in the business district of Chūō, Yamamotoyama Fujie Sabo is a Japanese tea shop with over 300 years of experience.
When we talk about a tea shop that’s existed for such an extended period of time, it’s almost a given that they know their stuff, and Fujie Sabo is no different.
Unsurprisingly, their most premium offering is a Gyokuro from Kyoto (Uji Gyokuro) set at ¥2,300 (about $20). It might seem expensive, but if you’ve never had this type of tea before, then I wholeheartedly recommend you try it. Oh, and you can also eat it with soy sauce if you choose to!
Also on offer are matcha from several prefectures, single-origin Sencha from Kagoshima, Hojicha from Kyoto, and Genmaicha from a number of locations.
One topic Fujie Sabo prides itself on is the relationship between green tea and food.
So if you’re a foodie but also love your tea, this is a great shop to visit.
Most of the food pairings start with a base of roasted nori seaweed and build up a flavor profile with things like noodles, soup, sushi, wagashi, and, of course, your choice of green tea.
4. Sakurai Japanese Tea experience, Minato City - Best for modern tea ceremony
Image Credit: Image credit: Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience
If you’re looking for something more than just a tea shop, the Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience might be worth checking out.
After studying for 14 years to become a tea master, Shinya Sakurai opened ‘Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience’’ in an effort to modernize the humble tea ceremony while still honoring its roots. The interior is similar to the previous tea shops on the list, with the main focus being mindfulness and creating a sense of calm. The best atmosphere to enjoy and appreciate tea.
The bar seats around 8 people, so expect an intimate and personal experience throughout your stay.
If instead you’re just after something to take home and can't quite afford the experience, Shinya has vials of tea for sale in the front of his shop, a design that pays homage to the building's pharmaceutical history.
Prices for individual teas start at ¥1,650 ($13), or you can splurge (and you absolutely should) on five tea tasting courses for ¥4,900 ($44).
If you can’t treat yourself to tea in Tokyo, then when can you?!
5. Uogashi Meicha, Ginza - Best for learning
Image Credit: Uogashi Meicha
Address: 5 Chome-5-6 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan | Phone number: +81 3-3571-1211
Founded in 1931, Uogashi Meicha is another tea shop that’s been in business for an exceedingly long time and clearly knows its stuff.
Since Tomohiro Tsuchiya (the current company president) took over, plans have shifted from focusing solely on sales to increasing stores and improving staff expertise. These two critical changes meant that Uogashi Meicha was able to provide their tea to a wider audience with far more expertise.
Staff speak great English and are only too happy to teach or assist you in your tea-based endeavors!
Whether you want to learn how to properly brew tea, learn about the tea leaves, or learn about the company's history, they’ve got you covered.
I’ve even read a review that stated a couple was in the Ginza branch for over 2 hours, learning everything they could. It’s truly a place that loves to teach about tea just as much as it loves to sell it.
Just like the other shops on this list, Uogashi Meicha has an extensive range of teas to purchase.
(takes a deep breath.)
Hongyokuro, Sencha, Matcha, Bancha, Mecha, Genmaicha, Kukicha, Hojicha, Konacha, Kamairicha, and Kocha.
Plus all sorts of teaware and accessories you may need to make the perfect cup.
If you only have time to go to one place, I’d make it here.
6. Dobashien Tea Company - Best for exclusive tea leaves
Address: 3 Chome-17-8 Akasaka, Minato City, Tokyo 107-0052, Japan | Phone number: +81 3-3583-3788
For the final teashop on this list, we have another long tea business.
Dobashien Tea Shop was established in 1892 when Tetsugoro Dobashi set up shop on the quiet outskirts of Tokyo.
The city then grew, and Dobashien found itself in the middle of an elite and financially rich district.
Ryotei (luxury Japanese restaurants) started to pop up everywhere, and what did they need?
Luxury tea leaves.
Dobashien has had its market and has continued to prosper for over 100 years.
With their shop located in Minato City, you’ll never be too far away from some of Tokyo’s most luxurious and exclusive tea leaves.
Well, there you have it. Six of the best places to buy and try green tea in Tokyo
I know I didn’t have to convince this audience to buy tea while you’re in Japan, but I hope I’ve given you a few options and suggestions you weren't aware of to make your trip an extra special one.
It’s been a real privilege to write for Kei and his audience, and if you’re interested in learning more about Japan or trying to plan a trip, then catch me over at A Day of Zen, and I'll be more than happy to help!
Guest post by: Jonny Gleason
A Day of Zen was built with the intention of sharing my love for Japan and its culture as well as guiding first-time visitors through their trip. If you’re interested in learning more or maybe even planning a trip out there, come and say hello at www.adayofzen.com.