Tea In Japan’s Contemporary Tea Houses

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FOOD: Tea in Japan’s Contemporary Tea Houses

Sipping tea in a beautiful setting is on the hit list for many visitors to Japan. However, those who look beyond the dime-a-dozen traditional tea houses and seek out these contemporary spaces will be treated to an even more unique experience, synonymous with modern Japan.

Read on for four of Japan’s most beautiful contemporary tea houses.


1. Tokyo Saryo, Tokyo

We’ve all heard of drip coffee, but how about drip tea? Tokyo Saryo by tea brand Green Brewing is the world’s first hand-drip green tea store, offering a variety of single origin teas from across Japan. With a passion for local leaves, the founders aim to promote home-grown tea as an alternative to coffee and have applied the same level of detail to brewing the perfect cup.

Bringing the traditional Japanese tea ceremony into the 21st century, visitors to Tokyo Saryo are invited to browse an extensive menu, where teas are categorised according to the temperature of the water used for each blend and the amount of time the tea is steeped for. A bespoke device created by Lucy Alter Design is then used to brew the perfect cup of tea – all amidst the store’s beautifully designed minimal interior.

Tokyo Saryo: 1-34-15 Kamiuma, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 


2. Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience

After dedicating 14 years to the art of crafting the perfect cup of tea, tea master Shinya Sakurai decided it was time to open his very own tea house – Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience – in the heart of Tokyo’s Aoyama district.

The fruits of what may seem like an excessively long training period can be enjoyed by those that seek out Sakurai’s shop – where, dressed in a crisp white laboratory coat, the tea master himself will lovingly prepare an exquisite tea ceremony in his equally exquisite contemporary tea house. Observing the process, and browsing Sakurai’s medicine store of glass-bottled teas collected across Japan, it’s impossible not to appreciate the hard work and patience that goes into mastering the tradition. In Sakurai’s sanctuary, tea truly becomes the restorative tonic it was originally meant to be – we recommend the ‘five tea tasting course’ for ¥4,800.

Sakurai Tea: Spiral Building, 5-6-23 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo


3. Asahiyaki, Uji, Kyoto

Perched on the banks of the Uji river, just metres from the Kyoto ceramicists’ 400-year-old workshop, Asahiyaki’s gallery and tea house is a beautifully designed haven- ideal for sipping tea from some of Japan’s most famous pottery.

Asahiyaki have been mastering the art of ceramics for 16 generations, and continue to make pottery using methods unchanged for hundreds of years. Their impeccably designed gallery and tea room occupies a former traditional house, and provides the perfect setting to browse Asahiyaki’s collection before enjoying a bowl of matcha whilst gazing across the water.

Asahiyaki: 67 Uji-Mataburi Uji-shi, Kyoto 611-0021, Japan


4. Sencha & Stars, Bisei, Okayama

A series of contemporary tea houses in Bisei, Okayama, have been purposefully designed for drinking tea under the stars. Bisei is known as both the place where green tea was introduced to Japan as well as a “sanctuary for stargazing”, inspiring Moriyuki Ochiai Architects to create the cluster of tea rooms where visitors can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony whilst drinking in the night sky.

Providing the perfect space to blend stargazing and tea sipping, each pod is designed to encourage guests to observe and appreciate the ever-changing natural landscape.

Images: Fumio Arkaki, Moriyuki Ochiai Architects

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