In Japan, tea drinking has a long-standing history. It was considered a ceremonial activity that had its own set of rules of conduct in olden times, but at its heart lie an earnest appreciation for the simpler things in life.
The mild and well-balanced flavour of green tea – whether it be Sencha, Genmaicha, or Matcha – shines through when back dropped with the unpretentious beauty of every day things. Think: well-made earthenware, hand-carved bamboo utensils, and low unvarnished wooden dining table in an unadorned tatami sitting room. The teahouse resembled a modest farmer’s hut; entering it wasn’t just a humbling experience, but was akin to how the tradition symbolically invites one to step out of the confines and structures inherent in a stratified society in the aim of fully enjoying a moment as it is.
Over the years, coffee has slowly established itself as the go-to wake-me-up elixir of the Japanese, but that doesn’t mean that tea has been pushed to the backseat. It seems that people would always opt for tea to calm down their city-frayed nerves. Several establishments have set-up shop to offer a modernised tea drinking experience. Commercial malls even host teashops specialising in creating a fun atmosphere and an interesting menu featuring Japanese green tea – something that doesn’t come off as too mature to attract the patronage of younger generations and tourists.
For those with a more discerning taste, though, we highly recommend Yakumo Saryo in the Yakumo neighborhood of Meguro for a roast-to-order cup of Hojicha, or Ippodo Kaboku Tea Room in Marunouchi for stronger-flavoured Gyokuro.