Kyoto, with its beautiful appearance in every season, is famous not only for sightseeing but also as a place to enjoy authentic Japanese tea. If you eat delectable Japanese sweets with your tea while sightseeing, you will be able to fully enjoy and immerse yourself in the authentic Japanese atmosphere. In this article, we will introduce some specialty stores in Kyoto where you can enjoy Japanese tea.
1. Ippodo Tea Kyoto
Founded in 1717, Ippodo is one of the oldest Japanese tea stores in Kyoto and has been serving tea since its establishment, evolving the taste of their tea with the times. Their Japanese tea is produced in the mountainous areas bordering Kyoto, Nara, and Shiga prefectures. The temperature difference between mornings and evenings is extreme, and the altitude of the area is very high, making it a very suitable place to grow tea.
These high-quality tea leaves grown here are said to have a mild flavor and elegant aroma. Ippodo sells not only a variety of Japanese tea leaves but also matcha (powdered green tea), which is a must for anyone who wants to buy tea in Kyoto. Ippodo’s Kyoto main store is a beautiful historical building, and there you can also enjoy their tea together with seasonal Japanese sweets in the cafe area. We highly recommend a visit while you are in town!
Official Website: Ippodo Tea
Information for the shop locations: Ippodo Tea shops
2. Marukyu Koyamaen
Founded in 1704, Marukyu Koyamaen is a long-established Uji tea producer in Kyoto. The motto of this Uji tea producer is “Making Teas with Quality as the Highest Priority” and they produce their own tea from the fields to the table. Therefore, they are very particular about the flavor and safety of their tea and never fail to participate in annual Japan’s National Tea Competition to improve their quality.
Marukyu Koyamaen has 5 direct shops in Kyoto. One of them is in the Kyoto Isetan department store, which is directly connected to Kyoto Station, so it is easy to buy their tea as a souvenir. And their flagship store “Nishinotoin Tea Shop & MOTOAN Tea House”, which is near the Karasuma-Oike subway station (K08, T13), offers an excellent menu that the customers can enjoy the teas and sweets while viewing a little, tranquil Japanese garden.
Official Website: Marukyu Koyamaen
Information for the shop locations: Marukyu Koyamaen Tea shops
Kyoto’s Fukujyuen is a tea shop with a history of more than 200 years that sells a wide range of teas not only in the Kyoto area but also in department stores throughout Japan. Therefore, with the Fukujyuen brand, you can easily buy Kyoto tea at department stores scattered around Japan without having to go to Kyoto.
When it comes to a more authentic place to enjoy the world of Kyoto teas, it is recommended for you to visit the Kyoto flagship store of Fukujyuen. Not only do they sell high-quality Japanese tea leaves, but they also sell Fukujyuen’s original tea utensils. You can also enjoy French cuisine using tea leaves from Fukujyuen for lunch and dinner with a fusion of Japanese tea and French cuisine. They also offer a tea room experience and lectures on tea if you are interested.
Official Website: Fukujuen
Information for the shop locations: Fukujuen Tea shops
Founded in 1872, Bikouen is a much-loved tea shop in Kyoto and is today run by the fifth generation of the family. Since its establishment, Honganji Temple has been purchasing tea from this tea shop, and the taste of their tea is highly recommended. Bikouen offers tea ceremony classes quite often, where you can learn the basics of the tea ceremony.
If you are not confident in your Japanese, don’t worry. There is a staff member from Hong Kong, who is multilingual in English, Japanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin and can teach you about the tea ceremony in an easy-to-understand manner from the very basics. For this reason, it is very popular among overseas tourists. Since Bikouen is located away from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto, you can enjoy learning about Bikouen’s tea in a place where time flows quietly. If you want to take your time and enjoy tea in Kyoto, Bikouen is a great choice.
Official Website: Bikouen
5. Gion Tsujiri
Gion Tsujiri is a tea specialty store in Kyoto, founded in 1860 that specializes mainly in Uji tea. Gion Tsujiri sells a wide range of Japanese teas made from high-quality tea leaves, and among them, Gion Tsujiri’s matcha has a reputation for being the finest matcha in Japan.
In order to provide the highest quality matcha, Gion Tsujiri uses a stone mortar to slowly and deliberately grind the tea leaves. Due to the tedious nature of this method, they can only create 40 grams of matcha per hour. However, this method is said to produce the highest quality matcha with good color and frothiness when it is whisked.
Official Website: Gion Tsujiri
6. Nakamura Tokichi
Nakamura Tokichi is a tea specialty store with a magnificent Japanese-style abode in Uji, Kyoto. The shop is frequented by Kyoto locals for its dedication to tea leaves and its sales of high-quality tea leaves. Since Nakamura knows tea leaves well, the recommended tea leaves brand here is “Nakamura-cha”.
Nakamura-cha is an original blend of gyokuro, sencha, and other teas blended with Nakamura Tokichi’s secret recipe. Because it is a blend of various tea leaves, it is said that the flavor of the tea differs when it is added to cold water compared to when it is added to warm water, making it a very dynamic tea.
Official Website: Nakamura Tokichi
Information for the shop locations: Nakamura Tokichi Tea shops
7. Café Hassui
If you want to enjoy a richer tea experience than that of a long-established tea specialty store in Kyoto, Café Hassui in Suiran Luxury Collection Hotel Kyoto is the place to go! At this Japanese tea cafe, you can enjoy a Japanese-style afternoon tea set with the finest matcha in front of the magnificent view of Arashiyama.
In the fall, the scenery in front of you will be covered with beautiful autumn leaves, and you will be able to feel the beautiful Japanese atmosphere to the fullest. Reservations can be made in advance through the multilingual reservation website. If you want to have a luxurious Japanese tea experience in Kyoto, this is the cafe for you!
Official Website: Café Hassui
Reservation Website: Café Hassui Reservation Site
Did any of these tea shops in Kyoto stand out to you? Some stores sell tea gift sets and sweets made with tea, making them perfect souvenirs to take home after sightseeing in Kyoto. If you are not sure which Japanese tea to choose, feel free to ask the staff for advice, and the staff will be able to recommend a favorite tea for you. After all, tea is their passion so they are more than happy to share it with you!
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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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