top tokyo tea houses
We find ourselves drawn to Tokyo for the true yin and yang it possesses. It's a bustling metropolis; but there are pockets of solitude in temples, parks, and tea houses. It's progressive and always thinking of the future with new architecture, technology, and urban advancements; but it's still deeply rooted in culture and traditions from centuries past.
We spent some time there recently, exploring all that the grand city has to offer, including many, many tea houses. We wanted to highlight some of our favorites for you!
A tiny spot in Ginza, this tea shop is best-visited solo or with one other person. Cha Ginza is two floors: the main floor is the tea shop, where you can purchase loose leaf tea and sample a few things. But, for 700 yen, you can go upstairs for a full tasting. The menu is always changing, but it seems that typically three teas are always served. The space is quite small, there are two benches with trays in between seats, which is why we recommend coming in small groups. They also have incredible teaware to gawk over.
SALON DE THE LUVOND
A tiny hidden gem in the heart of Omotesando, on the second floor of a building, this spot is a great world tea experience. They have tastings that take you on a journey through various tea producing regions of the world, not only Japan. This was the only place in Tokyo we saw tea being presented with a worldview, with our ethos at OneTea, we greatly appreciated. We did a tasting of four teas: a Japanese first flush sencha; a Taiwanese high mountain oolong; a Chinese cliff oolong; and a fresh herbal infusion of citrus and honey. All in all, due to the owner's kindness, the tranquility and relaxed nature of the spot, and the wide variety of high-quality teas, this was definitely a pleasant surprise for us and has moved its way up to a favorite spot to recommend.
SAKURAI TEA EXPERIENCE
This tends to always be on the top of most 'must-experience' tea spots in Tokyo, and for good reason. It reveres a level of class and precision we have yet to experience elsewhere in the world. With some of the best quality teas, presented in a super precious and luxurious way, it's definitely an 'experience'. Sakurai is by no means a locals spot, the tiny bar is filled with tea lovers and luxury seekers from around the world. But, don't be turned off by the tourism - it's tea, hospitality and presentation are worth it. Reservations are recommended, and it's better visited in small groups. We recommend the tea cocktail tasting, you won't regret it.
Located in the bougie neighborhood, Ginza, we had high expectations for class and elegance from this spot, and it did not disappoint. Designed by the agency that built Sakuari Tea Experience, much of the decor and teaware are the same. What sets HIGASHIYA apart is its focus on small bites and sweets. They excel in kashi and wagashi which are traditional Japanese treats. The tea selection has a range of rare single cultivar teas to more basic (but, still impressive) options. Make a reservation and plan to spend a decent amount of time enjoying tea, sweets, and your company.
This is the spot to go to try some special single cultivar Japanese teas. The shop itself gets quite busy, and they sometimes rush you along to seat others. So, we prefer to just pick up some leaves and give whatever we choose a try at home. It's hard to go wrong with their selection, so a little mystery bag is our preferred way to go here. If you're in the mood for some ice cream or sweets, they do serve tea as well as sundaes and ice creams in the shop.