In the Japanese tea fields, there are normally four opportunities during the year to pick tea leaves. The first opportunity during the calendar year, which is from the end of April to the end of May, the tea leaves are said to be particularly flavoursome, and have a particularly seasonal characteristic to them. These leaves are called “Shincha” (new tea).
These Shincha tea leaves build up nutrients within them during the winter, and start to bud once it becomes warmer in spring. These are known as the “new buds” and become the new “Shincha” tea leaves. Of the four times during the year when the tea leaves can be picked, the Shincha leaves are said to have the amino acids (theanine) that give the best flavour for the tea leaves. Shincha can only be enjoyed fully during this season. We highly recommend this opportunity to experience the changing of the seasons during this period.
Below this article will introduce 5 places within the Tokyo area where you can experience and sample Ryoku-cha.
UNI STAND (Kichijoji)
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The UNI STAND cafe is situated right next to Inokashira park. One can experience the various teas and coffees made by the “tea master” Kazuhiro Koyama. It’s a place with a very relaxed atmosphere and decor, and provides a place of respite during any trip. UNI STAND is also not only a cafe, but also carries out occasional collaborative workshops on Japanese culture and Japanese tea. If you’re lucky, you may be able to experience one of these workshops whilst relaxing with the healing effects of Ryoku-cha.
Address: Kichijoji CALAXY 002, 1-16-1, Shimorenjyaku, Mitaka-City, Tokyo Prefecture 181-0013
Chacha Kobou (Takadanobaba)
This place has eight types of Ryoku-cha. There is also an area within the establishment where various Japanese foods can be tasted, and this alone can be a reason to visit this cafe. In addition to tea, there are a wide range of sweet items to choose from, which complement well with the bitter taste of green tea. During the warmer months, iced tea is also added to the menu, which can be enjoyed along with cool iced sweets.
Chacha Kobou -茶々工房-
Address: 2-21-19, Nishi Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Prefectue 162-0042
This cafe is a seven minute walk from Omotesando, and is on the side road one block away from the main road, and has a surprisingly secluded and quiet atmosphere within the city. There are 30 different types of tea that have been carefully picked from qualified tea sommeliers, and there are sets where various different brews can be enjoyed in a set order. This is an opportunity to taste the subtle differences between the different types of Ryoku-cha available. This also provides the opportunity to understand the unique tastes of different Ryoku-cha leaves, where the aroma and taste of where the tea leaves were grown can also be sampled. There are also post cards available to buy featuring images of the different tea leaves, which provides a unique souvenir to buy during your trip in Japan.
Address: 5-13-14, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Prefecture 150-0001
Cha Cafe Takewaka (Ginza)
This area is a one minute walk from East Ginza (Higashi Ginza) near Kabuki-za. Aside from the ordinary Matcha, there are also 12 different varieties of original herb tea. The cafe has a relaxing sofa area directly next to the counter where the tea is being brewed, which is a particularly appealing selling point. In addition to Ryoku-cha, there are also Matcha Green tea beers, served with a deep green colour, providing even more reason to pop by this establishment if you are ever in the Ginza area.
Cha Cafe Takewaka -茶Cafe 竹若-
Address: Tokyu Stay Ginza 1F, 4-10-5, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Prefecture 104-0061
SALON GINZA SABOU (Ginza)
Salon Ginza Sabou is a sophisticated cafe just one minute from Ginza station, where Ryoku-cha and simple Japanese food can be enjoyed. One can choose from four different types of Ryoku-cha and then customize it according to taste preferences. Food items include the Onigiri made with “Yuki hotaka” rice, as well as other types of foods and various types of sweets that complement the taste of green tea. One of its famous items on the menu worth seeing is the “Tea ceremony parfait” decorated with the imagery of a Japanese traditional garden.
SALON GINZA SABOU
Address: 5-2-1, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Prefecture 104-0061
Let’s experience the splendor of green tea!
The Japanese “Matcha” green tea is often the most famous type of Ryoku-cha that is known throughout the world, but there are various different types of green tea that have their own unique and different tastes. Even with a slight difference in the method of brewing, the taste can completely change.
We highly recommend experiencing the different types of Ryoku-cha during one of their peak seasons.