This was an unplanned visit - we were visiting Spiral Market, spotted the Kanji word for 'tea' on 5F and thus made the discovery! They shifted from their previous premise in Minato. This is a beautiful new space - industrial, airy and bright!
We met Sou, the young teaist, who brewed very intently for us, and was very patient with all our questions. She speaks a little English and when unsure, used google translate to answer our question, which worked very well for the purpose! Follow her on instagram here!
Sakurai has impeccable taste in tea things and teas! The teas are also not the usual run-off-the-mill senchas or gyokuros.
Teas leaves are stored in beautiful copper tea caddies, and carefully weighed with this quaint antique scale.
Well the cups are modern and simple but for flavour brewed teas is definitely not compromised here!
One of the most interesting teas that we tried was the Awa Bancha! Its a fermented tea from Tokushima Prefecture. The processing method may explain its tastes: its mature leaves are plucked from summer tea plants, boiled in a pot, then taken out and rubbed together, then placed in a large jar for one month where it undergoes fermentation by lactobacteria, resulting in a pungent taste. The surprise is the sweet grape-like note that comes at the end of the sip, which is unforgetable because its so unexpected!
We had to taste the Wakocha, or Japanese Hongcha, because we have a soft spot for 'western' black teas since we drink it every morning! Considering that the tea leaves were so broken, the tea was sweet and floral and had no astringency!
We also tasted a fermented tea called Kurocha, which may not be our favourite tea in terms of taste, but academically its a fascinating tea! Made in Saijo City in Ehime Prefecture, where the fermentation process includes molds of the Aspergillus genus. The production is complicated with multi-step, thus accounting for its complex flavours with a lasting aftertaste.
The teas are sold in small packs of 15-30grams, and are thus very affordable. Had to grab a few bags of Awa Bancha for the tea friends in Singapore. One of our tea friends also brought back some Hojicha which was roasted and fruity, definitely one of the best hojichas we have tasted!
Now that its reloctaed to a more assessible location, we do hope to make this a regular stop each time we are in Tokyo!
Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-6-23, Spiral Building 5F 港区南青山5-6-23
About all things Tea
Hello! My name is Hongyuan!