Matcha Mania: A quick guide to Tokyo's Best Teahouses
Are you a Matcha Man (or woman)?
Do you find regular coffee matcha do about nothing?
Intrigued by green tea but don’t know matcha ‘bout it?
All puns aside, I love matcha. I drink it everyday, and not for the new age medicinal reasons (even though it is good for you), I just enjoy the flavor. As a history buff, I suppose part of me also appreciates the deep connection between the beverage and Japanese traditional culture; after all, the “way of the tea” has been around for nearly 500 years.
Unlike regular green tea, matcha requires special processing. The tea leaves must be shade grown for weeks before harvest, and then the stems and veins are removed from the leaves, so that the dried tea leaves can be ground into powder that is fine enough to dissolve in liquid. This process produces additional amino acids in the leaves and produces a different flavor profile from standard green tea leaves.
Not only is the flavor different, the powder is far more versatile than its leafy cousins, and can be used in a variety of drinks, pastries, and desserts. As such, there are myriad ways to enjoy Matcha, and I’d like to offer you a quick guide to places where you can get you matcha fix in Tokyo.
So without further ado...
If you’d like a matcha experience that is as close to enjoying it in someone’s traditional home as you can get, then Koso-an is the place for you. This teahouse is located in Jiyugaoka. It may only be 10 minutes by train from Shibuya on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, but it will have you feeling a world away from the city itself. The teahouse sits in a traditional Japanese style wooden building, and it’s interestingly decorated with bygone dolls, swords, and wooden chests. Like other tea houses, matcha and wagashi are the standard fare, but the ambiance and atmosphere are anything but standard.
Koso-an is open from 11am until 6.30pm daily, but are closed every Wednesday. It can be a little tricky to find their location, so be sure to follow the Google Map location below.
If you’ll be shopping or sightseeing in Shibuya and need a break from the hustle and bustle to enjoy a moment of zen, you can even find matcha within some of the biggest malls in the city. Inside Shibuya’s Hikarie Mall, there is a store by the name of Sateizenkasho-in, which serves up matcha and a range of different matcha-inspired desserts. In the summer months, one of the best thin