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Japanese Tea: Where to Buy and Drink it

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by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Akane N.

Last updated : Jun 14, 202411 min read

Food & Drink

Drinking Japanese tea is one of the things you can enjoy when visiting Japan. You can find tea everywhere in Japan. You can find it in vending machines, at convenient stores, and of course at restaurants. A lot of restaurants serve tea instead of a glass of water. Not many people may know that there are not just one but lots of types of Japanese tea. 

 



Types of Japanese tea

 

Ryokucha: Due to its health benefits, green tea has become very popular in foreign countries. It is the most basic type of tea you’ll find in Japan and probably the most consumed type of tea too. It has a mild grass-like taste, so some people don’t have a liking for it, but you should definitely try it once. In Japanese, it’s called “ryokucha”. 

 

Genmaic ha: This tea adds a twist to the basic green tea. It has a sweet, fragrant smell because of the roasted rice mixed in with the green tea leaves. It has a yellowish green tea and is called “Genmaic ha” in Japanese. 

 

Houjicha: This tea is made out of roasted green tea leaves, as you can imagine from the name. This tea is of a reddish brownish color. It is milder and sweeter than regular green tea, so younger children may favor it. Since it is roasted, it has a fragrant toasted kind of taste. It’s called “houjicha” in Japanese. 

 

Matcha: This “matcha” is the most expensive type of green tea. It is served at tea ceremonies and is a thick green tea powder mixed and frothed with hot water. It’s quite bitter so as a cultural experience, it’s great, but not many people enjoy drinking it. There are many sweets that are matcha flavored, like ice cream, chocolate, cakes, etc. These are matcha flavored, but they’re sweet, so if you enjoy green tea, I recommend trying these sweets first. 

 

Oolongcha: This of course is a Chinese tea. However, it’s now one of the teas that you can also find just about everywhere in Japan. The tea leaves are oxidized and then steamed or roasted, so it also has a toasted type of taste. If you want to order it in Japanese, it’s called “Oolongcha”. 

 

Mugicha: It’s a very popular tea to drink, especially in summer. It replenishes the minerals that the body loses due to perspiration during the hot and very humid Japanese summer. Furthermore, it is made by infusing roasted barley in water. It seems to not be enjoyed much by foreign tourists, but try it anyway if you’re here in summer. 

 

Jasmincha/Sanpincha: This is another originally Chinese tea. However, you can find it a lot in Okinawa. It’s called “Jasmincha” on the mainland of Japan, but it’s also called “Sanpincha” in Okinawa. Jasmine flowers are mixed in with green tea or oolong tea. So the tea has a touch of a sweet flowery taste, making the green or oolong tea have a milder taste. 

 

Black tea or red tea is usually thought of as a western type of tea, like those regularly consumed in England or exported from Sri Lanka. However, there are some Japanese versions of this black tea, made in Japan. Due to the lack of sun compared to for example Sri Lanka, the tea has a milder sweeter taste and has a more reddish color when brewed. It goes well with Japanese sweets or Japanese food.

Japanese Tea Brands 

There are many brands of Japanese tea that I cannot begin to cover them all. The 5 top prefectures that produce tea is Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Mie, Miyazaki, and Kyoto prefectures. Shizuoka alone produces 40% of all the tea produced in Japan. 

 

Where to Buy Japanese Tea

You can buy all kinds of tea anywhere in Japan, so it’s hard to recommend where the best place to buy tea is. For those of you who don’t have much money to spend, go to a supermarket. It’s probably the cheapest place to get some tea leaves. You can also find lots of types of bottled tea at supermarkets and convenient stores. 

 

For those of you who have a little bit more money to spend or are looking for an especially tasty type of tea, below are some tea stores you can go shopping at. They are arranged in two groups, the first is for green tea and other types of Japanese tea. The other is for Japanese Black Tea.

 

Tokyo Saryo

Address: 1-34-15 Kamiuma, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0011

Hours: 1pm - 8 pm (open from 11 am on weekends)

Closed: Mondays 

Website (Japanese only): https://www.tokyosaryo.jp/ 

 

Wanocha Itoen

Address: Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Bldg B1, 1-4-1 Hashimuromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0022

Hours: 10:30am - 7:30pm

Website: http://www.itoen-global.com/travelers/store/ 

 

Jyugetsudo Ginza 

Address: Kabukiza Tower 5F, 4-12-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061

Hours: 10am - 6pm (until 6:30 pm on weekends)

Website: https://www.maruyamanori.com/f/netshop/jugetsudo/

 

Maruhachi Seichajyo 

Address: Ta1-8 Iburihashicho, Kaga-shi, Ishikawa Pref. 

Hours: 10am - 6pm (last order at the café 4:30 pm)

Closed: Wednesday’s

Website (Japanese only): https://www.kagaboucha.co.jp/web/shop/ 

 

Ippodo Tea (Kyoto)

Address: Teramachi-dori Nijo, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0915

Hours: 9am to 6pm (tearoom 10am to 5:30pm)

Closed: New Year's holidays 

Website: http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/en/ 

 

Gion Tsujiri (Main shop)

Address: 563-3 Gion-machi Minamigawa, Shijo-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

Hours: 10am - 9pm

Website (Japanese only): http://www.giontsujiri.co.jp 

 

Lupicia (Main shop)

Address: 1-25-17 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Hours: 10am - 8pm (tearoom open until 7 pm)

Website: https://www.lupicia.com/global/ 

 

Kureha 

Address: 4-7 Yanagimachi, Saga-shi, Saga Pref. 840-0823

Hours: 11am - 6pm 

Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays

Website (Japanese only): https://creha.net/ 

Japanese Tea Ceremony 

 

For people who’d like not only to experience the taste of Japanese tea but also experience Japanese tea as a cultural experience, participating in a Japanese tea ceremony is an amazing way to do so. Learn about how to make authentic matcha tea and also witness the aesthetic process of the tea ceremony. But be aware that you’ll be drinking matcha tea in these ceremonies. It’s the one that is thick and bitter, so if you’re not a fan, I would not recommend it. In case you’ve never tried matcha tea before and are willing to try it, the tea ceremony is a great experience to try.

 

There are tea ceremony activities that allow you to experience making the matcha tea yourself, and there are also those in which you just participate in the tea ceremony instead of making the tea yourself. Decide which type you want to try and see some of the following websites in Tokyo to make a reservation. The fees start from around a minimum of 4,000 yen. Some places also offer the additional option of doing the ceremony in a kimono, so you can take some wonderful pictures too.

 


 

GoWithGuide is a service that connects customers with the best tour and guide for them. It’s essentially a marketplace of guides where you can choose your own guide.

 

The guides create their own tours, so all of their tours are unique and a lot of them can be customized. You can communicate directly with the guide to ask questions or let them know about your requests, like the length of a tour, before actually booking a tour and paying for it. 

 

Most of the tours provided are walking tours, so that you can use the public transportation system while sightseeing. Try to get a feel for getting around the city so that you don’t have any problems when you’re on your own after the tour. It’s an experience that will give you insight on how the local people move around during their daily lives. 

 

You also have an option of hiring a private car and driver for your tour or just to get around. This is an option that people with disabilities or elderly people who aren’t able to walk for hours on end find to be helpful or necessary. Catching a taxi is also a good way to get around, but sometimes, like on rainy days, you just can’t find one, so having a private car just for you is pretty convenient. And it’s not as much a hassle as renting a car and driving yourself.

 

Take a look at the guides’ profile videos to see what kind of person they are, and also see the reviews they got from other customers. This is an important step in choosing a tour and a guide. At most tour agencies, you won’t be able to choose your guide or see what they look or sound like before the day of the tour. You only get to choose the content of your tour. But isn’t choosing a pleasant companion for your tour an important aspect in having a great day, too? So take your time in choosing the perfect guide and tour for you and enjoy your stay in Japan to the fullest.

Gifu Tour Guide - Akiko W.

Akiko W.

5.00 / 5
(8 reviews)
Japan

Hello! My name is Akiko from Gifu prefecture. I am a National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter. I like going out with my family, talking with my friends over coffee at a cozy cafe, reading books, baking bread and cake when I have time. I passed the national tour guide test in 2017 and have worked as a guide since then. I have guided in Gifu city, Seki city, Takayama city, Shirakawago , Mino city and Nagoya city. I have lived in Gifu for more than forty years. Gifu prefecture is rich in nature so you can enjoy the rural atmosphere. Gifu city has a beautiful river 'Nagara river' and Mt.Kinka which has Gifu castle on the top. You can go up the mountain on foot or use a ropeway. The view from Gifu castle is so fantastic. At the foot of the mountain , there are many places to visit such as parks, a temple having a big image of Buddha, and a street preserving the historic atmosphere. At Nagara River, you can enjoy seeing a traditional way of fishing ‘cormorant fishing’ which is thought to have started 1300 years ago. Many cafes have unique service called 'morning service' in Gifu along with Aichi In the morning (until about ten thirty or eleven) when you order a cup of tea or coffee, they serve toast and salad ! Near Gifu park , you can find a nice Japanese style cafe where you enjoy good coffee and seeing a Japanese style garden. Seki city is a small city but so famous for its cutlery. At Japanese sword museum in Seki, you can see authentic Japanese swords! Mino city next to Seki city is well known for its hand made Japanese paper 'Hon minoshi' designated as intangible cultural asset by UNESCO . Until recently it was not easy to guide guests because of COVID-19 pandemic; however the situation is getting better. Some strict rules about COVID-19 have been lifted. Please visit Gifu. I am looking forward to seeing you. Please feel free to ask me when you need information about Gifu. Thank you for reading my introduction.                                                                                                                                 

Fukuoka Tour Guide - Kazue I.

Kazue I.

5.00 / 5
(17 reviews)
Japan

Hi! I am Kazue. I am from Fukuoka and live in the central city. I spent almost 20 years traveling around the world as a cabin attendant. Meeting different people, different cultures and eating local food were best things in my career. This experience definitely widened my perspective and will help me in some way when I work as a guide. Since I spent half my life outside of Japan, I noticed our culture and traditions are very unique and became more interested in historical sites in Japan. For my personal life, I am a mom of twins. It is still a hard work but I am enjoying a lot with them. We take them around Kyushu whenever possible for their fun and experience. We all love traveling after all. I am looking forward to showing you around our hometown soon!                                                                                                                                  

Shimizu Tour Guide - Sayori H.

Sayori H.

5.00 / 5
(2 reviews)
Japan

Hello, I can show you the real Japan. You can taste, see and feel the country. I'd like to show the beautiful culture for you to experience. I can organize the day tour from Shimizu port for Cruise customers. Tea ceremony, strawberry picking experience, anything you are interested, I would love to help you plan your tour. I can communicate in both English and Japanese. I look forward to welcoming people from different parts of the world. Thank you                                                                                                                                 

Shiga Tour Guide - Koichi W.

Koichi W.

4.94 / 5
(51 reviews)
Japan

Hi! I'm Koichi. I was born in Osaka, I studied in Kyoto when I was a university student. Now I live in Shiga next to Kyoto. I am a national government licensed tour guide. I have been guiding about 160 groups over the past twelve months. I usually guide my customers mainly in Kansai region including Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Shiga by public transportation systems. Well, I am curious about Japanese history, especially the history of Japan's ancient times since I was raised next to the world biggest mausoleum of the ancient Emperor called "Nintoku" in Sakai city Osaka which has just become one of the world cultural heritage sites. I dug out some ancient earthen ware vessels around there when I was a primary school student like the adventure archaeologist “Indiana Jones" (It’s our secret!!). That was my hobby. Now, one of my hobbies is outdoor activities such as mountaineering, kayaking, skiing and others. So I would like to take you to some good places where you can enjoy Japanese unique nature. I love to guide foreign visitors from all over the world. I think it is my calling or heavenly given job. Let's go and enjoy together! I hope to see you soon.                                                                                                                                 

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