STORY 4-must-try-matcha-dessert-shops-gelato-and-parfait by JNTO on 29 August 2019
Many may say soy sauce or miso paste, when asked to name the best taste to represent Japan. However, some would probably think that green tea matcha can be also one of them too. Matcha tea is, in reality, strongly associated with Japan's image. This time, we will now introduce you to places where you can taste the true flavour of matcha.
MATCHA... MATCHA... MATCHA!!
The mildly bitter and finely grounded powder of processed green tea stands out as a flavour with its seemingly evergreen popularity. Over the years, it has gradually become an element of the food landscape of various countries where you can discover them in cakes, beverages, iced desserts and more.
However, as amatcha lover, do you know where is the best place that you can get the true matcha experience when you travel to Japan? The answer would be Uji, a tiny town renowned for matcha production in Kyoto. Although it is highly recommended to drink matcha straight, there are lots of matcha sweets that you would not want to miss out too especially when you are in the area.
Why Kyoto has so Many Popular Matcha Shops?
Kyoto is undisputedlyone of the touristic capitals of Japan which bears a "small town" flavour. Here, as you wander around, you can experience both the city's wealthy ancient history and its contemporary feel, not to mention all the lovely temples, the amazing Senbon Torii, the peaceful Bambo Forest, and last but not least, Matcha's divine taste!
Kyoto’s specialty, Uji matcha, is considered to be one of the highest quality Japanese green teas. Do you know why matcha is so popular that Kyoto has so many matcha shops? One of the main reasons is that its health benefits are highly recognised by Japanese. Consuming the entirety of the tea leaves of matcha, their vitamins, minerals, and fibers appear to have positive health and beauty.
If you are really a hardcore matcha enthusiast, we would recommend you try out the delicious sweets at some of Kyoto's most sophisticated matcha cafes mentioned below.
Nakamura Tokichi Main Store
Nakamura Tokichi Honten was established in 1854 as a Japanese tea specialty. With stores in Kyoto Station, Uji City, and even Hong Kong, it is extremely popular as a hybrid of teahouse and café. It is very likely that you may need to wait for 30 minutes on weekdays or even 60 to 90 minutes on weekends before you can enjoy the lovely refreshment! We recommend that you make use of the waiting list; put your name down, head out for a short stroll before coming back.
If you prefer to wait in the shop, do not worry as there are waiting seats under a comfortable shade. This is unlike the waiting area for a sea bream ramen during the heat wave, and the plus point is that there is a beautiful Japanese garden for you to have your heart soothed while waiting for your turn to come.
The main shop that overlooks Ujibashi-dori Street is an ancient Uji tea store produced in a characteristic white wall and latticework tea wholesale style. There is also a tea ceremony workshop for customers to grind tea with a mill and subsequently savour the tasty powdered green tea infused in a ceremony room.
At the cafe, you can enjoy various types of tea-based beverages and desserts. One extremely popular item is namacha (fresh tea) jelly which many tourists or locals come here for. Matcha ice-cream and hojicha (roasted green tea) ice-cream are also highly recommended.
Do not miss out this fantastic tea house when you are in Uji as you will likely have an enjoyabletime here with their matcha dishes and warm services.
Nakamura Tokichi Uji Main Store
Address: 10 Uji Ichiban, Uji-shi, Kyoto
Access: From JR Nara Line Uji Station, 1 minute on foot
Operating Hours: 10: 00 a.m. – 7: 00 p.m. (café last order at 5: 30 p.m.)
Tsuji Riheionten Kyoto Uji Main Shop Café
When speaking about Uji and matcha, the talks often begin with Tsuji Rihei which was established over 150 years ago. In addition to having a primary store in Kyoto, the brand is also one of Uji's most popular teahouses that provides top-notch green tea.
Their main store is a teahouse that specializes in sweets and tea. It will take you only a 5-minute-or-so walk from JR Uji Station, and certainly one of the places for better knowledge of Japanese tea culture itself. You can even have your very first gyokuro (a Jamaican Blue Mountain of Japanese tea) here!
Although their self-produced traditional Japanese sweets have a very refined sweet taste, it is very surprising to know that the sweetness does not tend to overpower the delicate flavour of the tea. Tsuji Rihei's menu mainly comprises of parfaits, Japanese chestnuts truffles, and Mont Blanc.
At their main shop, there are four recommended must-try desserts -seasonal parfaits, matcha parfaits, matcha warabimochi starch cake with matcha sauce and matcha and hojicha chocolate truffles. So do drop by this shop to satisfy your matcha cravings when you are in the area!
- Tsuji Rihei Honten Kyoto Uji Main Shop
- Address: 41 Uji Wakamori, Uji-shi, Kyoto
- Access: From JR Nara Line Uji Station, 5 minutes on foot
- Operating Hours: 10: 00 a.m. – 6: 00 p.m. (last order at 5: 00 p.m.)
- ※Closed on Tuesdays
Suzukien Asakusa Main Store
Suzukien is a store in Asakusa which is one of Tokyo's most famous tourist spots. The veteran tea shop Suzukien was opened in 1853 and is well-loved by locals. Among matcha enthusiasts across the world, Suzukien has recently become known for their cooperation with Nanayawhich is a specialist brand for sweets produced from Shizuoka matcha. Thanks to this partnership, Suzukien started selling their matcha gelato in January 2016.
At Suzukien, you can try their richest matcha-flavoured gelato in the world which ranges from seven matcha ice cream intensities to other popular Japanese flavours such as Hojicha, Black Sesame, Japanese Black Tea. You will first be directed to the sweeter and lighter flavour of matcha. Moving along, you will taste the richer matcha spectrum and will be led to the more intense and bitter taste.
For all the matcha lovers, it is highly recommended visiting this place for the tasting experience of various intensities of matcha which you may not get anywhere else.
- Suzukien Asakusa Main Store
- Address: 3-4-3Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Access: From Asakusa Station, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, 10 minutes on foot
- Operating Hours: 10: 00 a.m. – 6: 00 p.m.
- ※Irregular holidays
Yojiya Café Gion
If you are a fan of Japanese cosmetics, you must have heard of “Yojiya”, the famous oil-blotting facial paper. However, do you know that besides their makeup and skincare products, this century-old Kyoto cosmetic brand even has a café at Gion where you can see geisha?
You can find the Gion branch of Yojiya Café inside an old machiya (traditional Japanese wooden townhouse) area just off the scenic Kamogawa River. This is one café where you can lounge in style, immerse yourself in a nostalgic ambience and taking a short coffee break where many Kyotoites would also love to do so as well. The café itself gives off a sentimental atmosphere which makes you feel like you are surrounded with interesting historical stories while enjoying your tea.
Yojiya Café Gion has some original menus including Wa (Japanese) sweets and light meals made with Japanese ingredients such as matcha and tofu. These menus are one of the main reasons many people are drawn to this café. Besides the tastes, the instagrammable styles are also the reasons for their popularity. The must-try drinks have to be their cappuccino and matcha cappuccino atop which both have an iconic geisha’s face logo latte art.
And in the neighborhood of the café, there is a Yojiya Gion Store, which handles various cosmetics including oil-blotting facial paper.They’ll make great souvenirs of Kyoto.
And if you need some souvenirs, Yojiya Café also sells promising ones!
- Yojiya Café Gion
- Address: 2F Izawa Building, 266 Gion-machi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
- Access: From Keihan Gion Shijo Station, about 5 minutes on foot
- Operating Hours: 10: 00 a.m. – 8: 00 p.m. (last order at 7: 30 p.m.)
- ※Business hours may change depending on the season