While in Japan, one thing I really wanted to do was to visit some tea shops, as well as see a tea ceremony in Kyoto! Last weekend, I had a free day, so I decided to go on a tea adventure!
Since I wasn’t sure where to go, I asked one of the Obubu staff (Simona-san) for suggestions and she gave me five: Tsujiri, Fukujuen, Horaido Tea Stall, Ippodo Tea, and Tea Ceremony Camellia FLOWER. Since I went early to Kyoto, I was actually able to go to all of them!
Saryo Tsujiri Kyoto Isetan
Saryo Tsujiri is the tea cafe for Gion Tsujiri, which is an old tea shop dating back to 1860 that features Kyoto teas. The cafe is known for its matcha desserts and sweets. From my understanding, it is completely separate from the ‘Tsujiri” company found in Canada, the U.K., Australia, and other places. This actually caused me some confusion because the shop looked different than I imagined!
Since I am not the most familiar with the transit system here in Japan, I decided to go to the Saryo Tsujiri location inside JR Kyoto Isetan, which is connected to Kyoto Station. It felt easier to get to based on Google Maps, and was along the way to the other tea shops.
I expected the cafe to be very busy, but I was able to be seated right away. Since my Japanese is still very basic, the staff found someone that spoke some English. That was extremely helpful because I was able to ask some simple questions.
I ordered Tokusen Tsujiri Parfait and a bowl of matcha with a seasonal wagashi (sweet). The parfait had matcha whipped cream, matcha castella, chestnuts, matcha jelly, matcha ice cream, azuki bean paste, rice dumplings, matcha sherbet, vanilla ice cream, matcha syrup and agar jelly cube. When the staff brought it over, they also provided a sign in English which suggested I eat the parfait as soon as possible because the dumplings would go hard when they cooled down.
The matcha I picked was a sweeter one and since it is springtime, my season wagashi was in the shape of a sakura flower with red bean inside. I really enjoyed the atmosphere since the shop had a peaceful traditional vibe. The items I picked were great. I’d go again for sure!
Address: 8-3 Higashishiokoji Takakuracho, Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 600-8214
Matcha & Wagashi Count: 1
When I was originally looking at Google Maps, I noticed that this shop was also located by Kyoto Station. However, when I got there, I realized that this was only the shop portion of the company, so I headed over to the flagship store. I am really glad I did because there was so much more!
The flagship store is comprised of 5 floors: Basement (workshops), 1st (tea shop), 2nd (Japanese snacks and light meals), 3rd (French cuisine), 4th (Japanese Tea Ceremony), and 5th (Japanese teaware). I headed for the 4th floor because I wanted to see what they were offering in terms of tea ceremonies.
There were two options: A. in a small tea room or B. sitting at a western style table. I was hoping for option A but it was full that day, so I opted for the western style table. When I got there, there were only a couple ahead of me. So, I was able to watch the staff make the matcha for them, as well as myself.
In total, I was given a cup of hojicha, a bowl of matcha, and also a wagashi. I really enjoyed the hojicha – it had an almost fruity flavour, which was really delicious. The matcha was smooth and grassy.
Since I arrived near closing time, I wasn’t really able to look around at the other floors. I saw a really pretty matcha bowl (chawan) that had sakuras on it, and I knew that I had to get it! I would love to come back again another day to see all the floors.
Address: 〒600-8005 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Shimogyō-ku, Tachiuri Higashimachi, 下京区四条通富小路角
Matcha & Wagashi Count: 2
Horaido Tea Stall
I sadly couldn’t stay here too long because I had to make sure I was on time for the tea ceremony at Tea Ceremony Camellia. The shop is located in Nishiki Market which is easy to get to. I always love looking at teaware so I knew I had to stop here quickly. The shop was beautiful and had a lovely traditional vibe.
Address: 〒604-8043 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Higashidaimonjichō, 東大文字町295
Matcha & Wagashi Count: 2
Ippodo Tea Co.
Ippodo is a pretty well-known tea shop. So, this was actually something I was looking forward to! I had tried two of their matchas before and enjoyed them. The shop was easy to find and it was on a big street.
What I didn’t expect was the crowd because all the other tea shops I had been to had been relatively quiet. Even when I visited Lupicia Tea during a previous trip to Kyoto, there was only a handful of people.
The Ippodo shop is basically broken into three parts: the main shop in the middle, the cafe to the right, and then a little workshop area to the left. Since I had a tea ceremony to attend to at Tea Ceremony Camellia FLOWER, I stayed mostly in the tea shop area.
I ended up buying a bit of everything! I also caved and bought another matcha set bowl as part of a set. I wanted this bowl for more casual use. The staff were very friendly and answered all my questions. They even wrapped up all my items and labelled them in English. I am excited to try out all of the items that I bought!
Address: 52 Tokiwagichō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 604-0915
Matcha & Wagashi Count: 2
Tea Ceremony Camellia FLOWER
This part of the trip was a bit of an add-on. I had emailed the company the night before because I wanted to see a tea ceremony in Kyoto. I offered to go back next weekend if needed. However, they had one spot right before closing, so I took it.
Camellia offers two services: Flower and Garden. Flower is tea ceremony in a small tea room where the guests are able to try making matcha themselves. Garden is similar, but located in an old teahouse by a garden. Sadly, that was filled, so I choose Flower.
There was a waiting area, where I sat with the other guests until it was our turn. We all had a cubby-hole to put our bags and belongings. I really liked that touch because then the actual tea room was very clean and neat.
The room itself was small and clean, but a bit dark. One side was where the ceremony was with all the tea utensils, and the rest of the space was for the guests. There were 6 other people with me.
The first part of the event was the staff explaining Japanese tea and performing the tea ceremony. She was really elegant and all the motions were smooth. Since I had been to one before where parts of it were explained, I was able to better appreciate what was happening.
Then we were served a wagashi, which tasted like a jellybean and a yuzu inside. Finally, we were given bowls (chawans) ourselves and we made matcha. The staff told me I did a good job! I felt so proud!
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience. I just wish the room was a bit brighter.
Address: 3 4 9-1 2Masuyachō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0826
Matcha & Wagashi Count: 3
I am so glad that I went on this little tea adventure in Kyoto! When I told Simona-san, she mentioned a few more places for me to go. Maybe another tea adventure? What should I go see?
Where would you want to go?
P.S. Sorry for the delay! I was having issues with my email.