The city is home to Japan’s oldest tea companies and is the heart of its tea culture. Here are five lovely ways to experience it.
Three-century-old Ippodo is an institution. It’s a full-service green tea shop with a spacious tearoom that allows visitors a hands-on experience in brewing techniques. Teramachi-dori Nijo, Nakagyo-ku; ippodo-tea.co.jp.
Known for serving its green tea cold and sweet, Tsujiri is also famous for its green tea desserts. Notably, its Tsujiri parfait, a towering dish of matcha eight ways—cake, jelly, ice cream... If short on time, there’s soft-serve matcha to go. 573-3 Gionmachi Minami-gawa, Higashiyama-ku; tsujiri-global.com.
For green tea aficionados, this tea salon in Nichinichi art gallery delivers. Visitors can choose from small-batch green teas. And in the showroom, which exhibits fine crafts, there are quite rare green teas to bring home. 298 Shintomi-cho, Kamigyo-ku; nichinichi.com.
Motoan Tea House
The courtyard teahouse was founded by 17th-century Uji tea purveyor Marukyu- Koyamaen. Uji tea (named for where it’s from) is world-class. When green tea first arrived from China, in the 700s, it was cultivated in Uji. Pour over rice to try a dish called ochazuke. Oike-Kudaru Nishitoin-dori, Naka- gyo-ku; marukyu-koyamaen.co.jp.
Zen Café is a contemporary space opened by Kagizen, a 300-year-old confectionery. The interior is modern, as is the green tea—here you can have it roasted (with Kagizen sweets, of course). Beer and juice can also be ordered. 570-210 Gionmachi Minami-gawa, Higashiyama-ku; kagizen.co.jp.